Luke Shipley and Wyatt Wilson Standout in 5-3 Loss to Cougars

The Victoria Royals (12-17-4-0) fell 5-3 to the Prince George Cougars (16-17-1-1) tonight in the first of two back-to-back games.

After missing the last few games, the team welcomed back a handful of players including Campbell Arnold, Jason and Ryan Spizawka, Devin Aubin and Tanner Scott.

Stepping up for Victoria in tonight’s contest were defencemen Luke Shipley and Wyatt Wilson who each collected two points. Wyatt Wilson earned two assists on goals from his brother Anthony Wilson and Gannon Laroque while Shipley had an assist and the goal of the night in the last 18 seconds of play.

Carter Briltz had the Royals on the penalty kill early when he took a hooking penalty at 2:21. With the man advantage, the Cougars connected to get the first goal of the night from Johnny Hooker with assists from Keaton Dowhaniuk and Craig Armstrong. A minute later, the Cougars had a two-on-one opportunity when Koehn Ziemmer took a nice pass from Riley Heidt and Jaren Brinson to put one high over Arnold’s glove to make it 2-0.

Similar to the first period, the Cougars scored early in the second on a shot from Ziemmer assisted by Heidt, making it 3-0 Prince George. Right after the third goal, Luke Rybinski took a four-minute penalty for high sticking. While Arnold was down, the puck became loose, and Prince George made it 4-0 with a goal from Hooker assisted by Blake Eastman and Jonas Brondberg. With another power play at hand from a four-minute minor, the Cougar’s added their fifth goal on a shot from Hudson Thornton assisted by Carter MacAdams.

Victoria went on the power play when Shipley drew a penalty for hooking at 14:35 and Laroque made it a 5-1 game after he tipped in Wyatt Wilson’s earlier shot attempt. With two minutes to go, Wyatt Wilson found Shipley who pushed hard into the Cougars zone. Shipley made a centering pass to Anthony Wilson who took a hard shot to the net to make it 5-2 to end the period.

Both teams took penalties in the third period but were unable to score with the man advantage. With 18 seconds left, Shipley scored an incredible goal after being tripped going to the net, but he bounced back to grab the puck and put one behind Cougar’s netminder Tyler Brennan to make it 5-3 to end the game.

In net for the Royals tonight was Campbell Arnold who made 29 saves on 34 shots while Tyler Brennan made 29 saves on 32 shots for the Cougars.

Despite the loss, GM and Head Coach Dan Price believes the Royals will now head into tomorrow night’s game more with a boost in momentum.

“It took us a little while to get our legs tonight, especially with all of the early penalties, but then we turned the corner halfway through the second period. We got our feet going, created some power play opportunities and did a much better job controlling and possessing the puck,” Price said. “The guys really dug in. Obviously, we are not interested in moral victories but the momentum shift that the players created in last 30 minutes of the game will be an important advantage heading into game two. A quick start tomorrow will be important, and I believe we’ll get that right off the bat.”

After tomorrow night’s game in Prince George, the Royals return to Victoria on Friday to face the Giants. The game on January 21st against Vancouver will be Bell Let’s Talk Night, a game that supports the annual “Bell Let’s Talk’ campaign designed to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and to support mental health across Canada. Then on Saturday the 22nd, the Everett Silvertips are in Victoria for the Royals Halfway to Summer Jam game.