Royals Shot Down Late By Nationally Ranked Rockets

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Erich Eichhorn (ISN)  – The Victoria Royals suffered their fourth loss in only eleven games when the visiting nationally #2 CHL ranked Kelowna Rockets defeated the home team 3-2 in a televised game at Save on Foods Arena during Friday Night CHL Hockey on Sportsnet.

Victoria native Jack Palmer skates for the puck in the corner as a Kelowna Rocket tries to cut him off during play Friday night at Save On Foods Arena – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Royals, looking to further solidify their hold on a second place spot in the B.C. Division of the WHL hold an 18-8-3-0 record on home ice, were looking to improve their record, stealing a win from the high flying Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets, sitting number two in the nationally ranked BMO Top Ten CHL rankings, came into Victoria after giving the Kamloops Blazers an 11-4 thrashing Wednesday night for their third consecutive win, and eighth win in their last nine games.

The Royals would send out veteran starting puck stopper Coleman Vollrath. Vollrath, holding onto a season avg 3.10 GAA, would look to better the Rockets netminder of choice Comox native Michael Herringer (GAA 2.37).

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Michael Herringer handles the puck to a waiting teamate up ice. Herringer would get the 3-2 win in game one Friday night – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

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With 43 sec. remaning in regulation time and OT looming, Vollrath wasn’t able to keep the puck from getting behind him, giving the Rockets the win in the final minute of play – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Royals wasted no time getting to the scoreboard. Austin Carroll would put the puck past Herringer 1:48 into the first period on a helper from Brandon Magee and Travis Brown while the Royals enjoyed an early power play opportunity courtesy of a delay of game penalty by Kelowna’s Leon Draisaitl. The Royals, seemingly playing with fire, would give the Rockets three chances to score on their own power play opportunities, and would finally burn Vollrath and his Royals with a goal by Cole Linaker at 10:29 to even the score 1-1 through the end of the first period of play.  The Royals were fortunate to come out even despite being outshot by the Rockets by a 13-6 margin in the period.

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Austin Carroll celebrates his 34th goal of the season to open the scoring for his Royals Friday night against the Kelowna Rockets – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca)

Victoria would climb on top again half way through the second frame when Greg Chase would blast one past Herringer from the left point after a tape-to-tape pass from Jack Walker and Travis Brown. The Royals would hold that lead through the period despite the chippy play from both teams that saw the officials give out twenty-four minutes in penalties.

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Travis Brown skates the puck into the Rockets end with Rodney Southam in chase. Brown would be voted 2nd star of the game – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Royals would enjoy a 2-1 lead into the third period until a hooking penalty on Royals Alex Forsberg at 11:54 into the third would allow the Rockets to pull even 2-2 on an Josh Morrissey goal that would beat Vollrath off his left shoulder and into the back of the Royals goal. With neither team looking offensively minded, fans at Save on Foods Arena appeared settled on for OT. The Kelowna Rockets, perhaps not on one of their best outings, found a way to pull a win out of their hat when, with only forty-three seconds remaining, centre Leon Draisaitl, the scape goat earlier in the game for the Royals first goal, would beat Vollrath on a feed from teammate Riley Stadel to end the game and send a disappointed Royals team to the dressing room with the 3-2 loss.

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Leon Draisaitl would score the winning goal against the Royals in game one action. Netminder Herringer acknwledges his efforts – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Shots on goal favored the Rockets  32-27.

Game 2 vs the Rockets is Saturday night at Save On Foods Arena. Game time 7:05 pm

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