PRINCE GEORGE, BC – The Victoria Royals top players came to play Saturday night. Matt Phillips and Tyler Soy each had three-point games, in the Royals 7-3 win over the Prince George Cougars.
Phillips set a new Royals single season franchise record for points (102) when he set up Victoria’s first goal; he added two more assists in the second period. Soy scored the Royals’ opening goal and also picked up two helpers in the middle frame. Victoria got goals from seven different players, including defenceman Chaz Reddekopp, who scored in his return to the line-up after a 20-game absence.
Griffen Outhouse came off the bench to pick up the win, stopping all nine shots he faced in 21-minutes of work, after he replaced Dean McNabb late in the second period; McNabb surrendered three goals on 15-shots.
Aaron Boyd, Brogan O’Brien and Jackson Leppard scored for the Cougars, who had their three-game win streak come to an end. Tavin Grant suffered the loss in net, as he stopped 29 of 36 shots.
Victoria won the special teams battle as well, as their power-play scored three times on five opportunities, and shutout the Cougars man-advantage on three opportunities. It was that Royals power-play that opened the scoring.
Soy made it 1-0 for the visitors midway through the first period, finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play. Dante Hannoun went cross-crease to Soy on the opposite side of the net for the tap in at 12:02.
Aaron Boyd tied it three-minutes later, scoring off the rush from the left-wing. Boyd grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, chipped it to himself and from the face-off circle, fired a wrist-shot past McNabb at 15:02; Boyd grabbing his 12th goal.
Victoria got the lead back late in the opening frame, as Scott Walford scored his first of the season with less than three-minutes left. The defenceman pinched down from the blue-line and tipped in a centering feed from Soy at 17:53.
Brogan O’Brien brought the Cougars back on even terms just seconds into the second period. O’Brien cut down the right-wing, carved his to the net and then went upstairs on McNabb, just 28-seconds into the second.
However, the Royals went ahead for the third time midway through the second, and again on the power-play. Jared Freadrich made it 3-2 for Victoria at 10:15, when he hammered a one-timer from the right-wing face-off circle, that beat Tavin Grant on the blocker-side.
For the third time, the Cougars came back to tie it, as Jackson Leppard scored late in the second. The Cougars worked the puck behind the net and that’s where Jared Bethune centered for Leppard, who fired a one-timer underneath McNabb at 18:03; Leppard’s 14th. That goal would spell the end of McNabb’s night, as Griffen Outhouse came in relief. The goaltending switch may have been the spark the Royals needed.
Victoria exploded for four goals in the third period, including scoring twice in just 67-seconds to go up 5-3. Noah Gregor broke a 3-3 tie just 2:12 into the final frame, as he pushed the puck in from the crease, after Igor Martynov did a lap of the net and spun the pass over the Gregor.
Then Kade Jensen made it 5-3, when his pass from the left-wing ended up going off a defender’s stick and past Grant at 3:19; Jensen getting credit for his seventh.
The Royals padded their lead midway through the third, as Chaz Reddekopp stepped out of penalty-box, and found the back of the net. Reddekopp was hit with a breakaway pass and beat Grant up high at 11:01.
Tarun Fizer put the finishing touches on the win, scoring his first WHL goal, on a Royals power-play inside the final minute.