The Victoria Royals split the weekend series after a 6-4 loss to the Kelowna Rockets Saturday night.

The Royals went to work early in the first period, fighting off a slashing penalty from Wyatt Wilson. With three seconds remaining, Rockets defencemen Tyson Feist put one through the pads of Royals goaltender Tyler Palmer to give the Rockets the early lead. After a few incredibly close calls from both teams, Friday night’s first star Brayden Schuurman got the Royals on the board to make it a tie game on an assist from Gannon Laroque.

Both teams came into the second with a chip on their shoulder. Royals defencemen Wyatt Wilson took his second penalty of the night four minutes into the second which allowed Rockets Colton Dach to put one high in the net to make it 2-1. The penalties kept coming with one to the Rockets seven minutes in. The Royals took advantage and set up a nice play from Keanue Derungs and Evan Patrician who passed it to Gannon Laroque, to tie it up 2-2. A minute later, Laroque would take a penalty for hooking and the Rockets would make it a 3-2 game with a goal from Andrew Cristall.  After a Rockets player put his hand on the puck shortly after, the Royals were given a penalty shot which was taken by Keanu Derungs. Derungs used his incredible stick handling to make the game 3-3, but the Rockets came right back to make it 4-3 on a snipe from Jake Poole.  With seven minutes left in the second, Rockets defencemen Caden Price made it 5-3 to end the period.

Heading into the third, the Royals were looking to make a quick comeback when Brayden Schuurman scored on the powerplay to make it 5-4. His goal was assisted by Bailey Peach and Gannon Laroque at 12:06. Despite going hard to the net, the Royals couldn’t get another past Rockets goalie Cole Tisdale.  With a minute left in the third, the Royals pulled goaltender Tyler Palmer and went on the power play for the Rockets delay of game. Despite the two-man advantage, the Rockets managed to score on the open net to make it 6-4, the final score of the game.

“I think the scoring chances were pretty even. In the third we outshot them and definitely out chanced them as well,” GM and Head Coach Dan Price said of the game. “We were a depleted group, down to four defencemen after Aubin went out and we lost Dereniwsky as well. It was a pretty exhausted group in the end, but they sure pushed hard.”

The three stars of the night were Colton Dach (KEL), Gannon Laroque (VIC) and Tyson Feist (KEL)

With three points this evening, Laroque was optimistic about the Royals loss.

“I thought we played really well both games. I think we have to build off and use everything as motivation and get ready for Tuesday,” said Laroque. “We can’t get down on this game. I know there’s little things we have to fix, but I think we’ll be good for Tuesday.”

The Royals take on the Blazers Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. with a special “Way Back Wednesday” theme night and specialty jersey at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.