Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
September 22, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals opened their 2017-18 Western Hockey League (WHL) regular season with a decisive 7-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants on Friday night, as forward Matthew Phillips scored three times and added an assist in front of just over 6,500 fans at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
The Royals Igor Martynov would get the near sell-out crowd to their feet early in this one, as he snapped his first career WHL goal past Giants starter Todd Scott just 3:12 into the game while on the power play. Ryan Peckford would add his first of the night at the 12:01 mark, also on the power play, and the Royals were in business.
Phillips’ first of the night came short-handed and only 12 seconds into the second period, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead. After the Royals Peckford, with his second and Vancouver’ Ty Ronning exchanged goals to close out the second period, Phillips opened the third by scoring twice before the five-minute mark to complete the hat trick, giving Victoria a commanding 6-1 advantage in the process.
The hat-trick was the sixth of his Phillips’ career and came with an interesting twist, as each goal was scored in three different ways (even strength, power play, and shorthanded).
The Royals’ Dino Kambeitz closed out the scoring with his first career WHL goal at the 6:29 mark of the third period.
Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse was solid on the night, making 31 saves on 32 shots, before leaving the game late in the third, giving way to rookie Dean McNabb, who finished the game stopping all four shots that he faced.
Peckford finished the night with three points (2G-1A), while Eric Florchuk (2A), Dante Hannoun (2A), Jared Legien (2A), and Jared Freadrich all posted multipoint nights. For Legien and Freadrich, the points were their first in the WHL.
The win was the first for the Royals new Head Coach Dan Price. Price, who replaced veteran Dave Lowry when he departed for the Los Angeles Kings, was 0-2-1 last season behind the bench when Lowry was out of action for four games due to the mumps.
The Royals special teams were key to the win Friday, scoring three times on the power play, once shorthanded and holding the Giants to 0-6 with on their power play chances.
The Royals will complete the home-and-home series with Giants on Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. from the Langley Events Centre. They then return to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Saturday, September 30th and Sunday, October 1st to face the Kamloops Blazers. Puck drop for Saturday’s contest is slated for 7:05 p.m. while Sunday’s game will begin at 3:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Both teams scratched veteran players who were at NHL Training Camps. For the Royals, Chaz Reddekopp (LA Kings) and Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks) and for Vancouver, Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers). Forwards Igor Martynov and Tarun Fizer both made their WHL debuts in tonight’s victory. Additionally, forwards Yan Khomenko, and Jared Legien, along with defencemen Anthony Bishop and Jared Freadrich, skated in their first game as a Royal.
Vancouver forward Owen Hardy made his return to the Island tonight. Hardy is originally from Nanaimo, BC and played major midget hockey for the North Island Silvertips of the BCMML.