Royals Special Teams Take Out Hitmen

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

February 3, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals used a pair of second period power-play goals to break open a tight 2-1 game and skate to a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen in Western Hockey League (WHL) action Wednesday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

Calgary’s Colby Harmsworth (6) and the Royals’ Regan Nagy (24) battle for the puck late in the first period on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Royals two power-play goals game on both ends of a double minor in the second period to Calgary’s Andrew Fyten and definitely turned the tide in what was a close game to that point.

The Royals also used six other power-play chances to keep the undisciplined Hitmen busy in their own end and the Royals penalty killing teams would shut the Hitmen down on six of their own power-play opportunities to deny any chance of a comeback by the visiting side.

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The Royals’ Tyler Soy (17) prepares to fire a shot during first period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Royals struck very early in this one, with Jack Walker burying one past Calgary goaltender Nik Amundrud just 1:29 in to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Amundrud, who took a hard shot off his mask in warm-ups, seemed to still be feeling the effects of that blast in the first few minutes, as he stumbled on a shoot-in just prior to the Walker goal and looked unprepared for the shot that beat him.

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Victoria’s Alex Forsberg (16) skates in on a breakaway attempt ahead of the check from Calgary’s Travus Sanheim (32) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Calgary would respond at the 6:28 mark with a goal by Jackson Houck, but just 17 seconds later, the speedy Dante Hannoun, playing his 100th career WHL game, would reward himself for that milestone by scoring his 20th of the season to put the Royals back in the lead 2-1.

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Victoria rookie Dante Hannoun (19) would score his 20th goal of the season in his 100th WHL game on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the second, the Royals first goal came just 29 seconds after Fyten went into the box and it was rookie sensation Matthew Phillips who continued his torrid scoring pace, banging in a rebound at 10:33 to notch his 29th goal of the year. Less than a minute later, Phillips would strike again with his 30th to give the Royals all the scoring they would need for the night.

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Victoria’s Matthew Phillips gets a little roughed up by the Hitmen’s Tyler Mrkonjic (28) during one of many scrums in Wednesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After that, the game took on a chippy nature, with various scrums breaking out, including one that saw Phillips almost decapitated by a late hit from the Hitmen’s Jackson Houck. Later, Ryan Gagnon of the Royals was sent off for a boarding double-minor and roughing penalty, sparking another scrum near the Royals net.

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Victoria defenceman Ralph Jarratt (4) wheels the puck from behind his net while being chased by Calgary’s Carson Twarynski (24) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The chippiness would continue into a hard-hitting third period, with the teams amassing a total of 65 penalty minutes for the game, 41 for the Hitmen and 24 for the Royals.

Amundrud took the loss for the Hitmen, stopping 22 of the 26 shots he faced, while the Royal’s Coleman Vollrath picked up his 23rd win of the season, stopping 28 of the 29 shots that he faced on the evening.

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Victoria’s Keith Anderson (12) reaches for the puck while being checked by Calgary defenceman Keegan Kanzig (5) during third period action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

With the win the Royals pick up their sixth win in a row and moved to a record of 32-15-2 -3, remaining second in the Western Conference, four points behind Kelowna. The Hitmen, who saw a three-game win streak snapped, fell to 30-19-1-1 and they drop into a fourth place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Prince Albert Raiders who defeated Prince George Wednesday 3-1.

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With two more goals Wednesday, Victoria rookie sensation Matthew Phillips now has 30 on the season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Royals now gear up for a two-game road trip south of the border, as they head to Tri-City to take on the Americans on Friday Feb. 5 and then over to Portland for a clash with the Winterhawks on Saturday Feb. 6. They return to Victoria to host the Everett Silvertips on Monday and Tuesday February 8 and 9.

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Victoria defenceman Chaz Reddekopp (right) tries to get at Calgary Travis Sanheim (32) during this melee on Wednesday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: This was the Royals / Bruins 700th franchise game in the WHL. Dante Hannoun and Jared Dmytriw played their 100th career game Wednesday. Former Royal Keegan Kanzig made his first return to Victoria since being traded to the Hitmen in November of 2014.

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