Story and Photos By Chrstian J. Stewart (ISN)
Jamie Crooks, Steven Hodges and Ben Walker each had a pair of points to lead the Victoria Royals over the Prince George Cougars 4-2 Friday evening.

Victoria (ISN) – It would have been very easy Friday evening to forgive the 6,311 fans in attendance at the Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars WHL game for thinking they had mistakenly purchased tickets for a MMA event instead of a hockey game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

That was mainly due to the fact that in the first twelve minutes of the game, the two teams took the phrase “fighting for a playoff spot” literally, as five separate fights – including two at once – took place, resulting in close to ninety minutes in penalties and two game ejections, including the Royal’s Robin Soudek and the Cougar’s Cody Carlson.
Victoria's Jamie Crooks would get the worst of his first period fight, but would come back later to score the Royal's third goal Friday evening (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
Victoria’s Jamie Crooks would get the worst of his first period fight, but would come back later to score the Royal’s third goal Friday evening (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Once the dust settled and the teams started to play some hockey, the Royals carried the play and outchanced the Cougars, but after they failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play, it was the Cougars who scored first, when Caleb Belter snapped a low glove side shot past Royals starter Keith Hamilton at the 13:59 mark.

The Royals had a few more good chances prior to the end of the period, but Cougar starting goaltender  Drew Owsley was sharp, kicking out all nine shots he faced and keeping the Cougars out in front 1-0 heading into the break.
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Logan Nelson would assist on the Royal’s second goal Wednesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

The second period started ominously for the Royals as they took a quick penalty, but after a solid kill, it was all Royals after that, as they would score four in the period to take command of the game.

Brandon Magee got things started for the Royals on the power-play, as he took a nice centering pass from Ben Walker and zipped a shot past Owsley at the 5:00 mark.  This was followed by an unassisted marker by Steven Hodges at the 9:05 mark and another by Jamie Crooks at 12:22.  The Royals completed their second period scoring on another power-play at the 17:32 mark as Dakota Conroy notched his eighth of the year.
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Victoria’s Steven Hodges would have a goal and an assist to pace the Royal’s to their 4-2 win Friday.
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Victoria’s Taylor Crunk looks for a first period shot in front of the Cougar’s Micheal Mylchreest on Friday.
The third period saw the Cougars come back to life slightly and with the aid of three power-plays, out-shoot the Royals 9-3, however they could only manage to put a single marker past Hamilton – by Jake Mykitiuk at the 12:12 mark – and the Royals finished with the important 4-2 win.
The win was a big one for the Royals as both Everett (4-1 to Portland) and Seattle (5-2 to Tri-City) lost Friday and as such, the Royals have moved back into a tie for 7th place with the T’Birds and sit three points up on Everett and four points up on Prince George.
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Ben Walker would continue to impress, notching a pair of assists against the Cougars Friday.

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Captain Hayden Rintoul looks for a passing opportunity against the Cougars Friday evening (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
The Cougars and Royals will meet again Saturday night in Victoria. Game time is 7:05 pm at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.