The Victoria Royals (12-19-4-0) lost 4-2 in a close battle against the Vancouver Giants (16-17-2-0) on Friday night.
Austin Zemlak scored his first WHL goal tonight after having missed most of the season due to an injury. The 16-year-old was excited to score in front of the home crowd.
“It was awesome. Such a great experience and I’m really happy. It’s all just one step closer to getting back in the game for me,” the defenceman said.
The Giants opened the scoring in the first when Cole Shepard scored on a tic-tac-toe play from Alex Cotton and Fabian Lysell to make it 1-0 six minutes in. The Royals, who had multiple close calls, were able to even it out at 11:06 when Riley Gannon scored his 11th goal of the season with assists from Evan Patrician and Matthew Hodson. With the minutes winding down, Adam Hall almost made it a 2-1 game when he outskated Campbell Arnold for the puck but missed on the open net to keep it tied ending the first.
The Royals found themselves killing off two penalties in the first half of the second, one to Wyatt Wilson for cross-checking and the other to Kalem Parker for closing his hand on the puck. With just over ten minutes to go, Shepard made a centering pass to Lysell who made it 2-1 for the Giants.
Vancouver was really applying the pressure in the third period and at 7:27 Connor Horning made it 3-1 off a deflection with assists from Tom Cadieux and Ty Thorpe. The Royals refused to give up and kept rushing towards the Giants net when Zemlak scored his first WHL goal from the point with an assist from Tanner Scott to make it 3-2. With one minute to go, Victoria pulled Arnold to get the extra attacker, but it was Zack Ostapchuk who scored on the empty net for the Giants to end the game 4-2.
Arnold was in net for the Royals tonight and made 35 saves on 38 shots while Will Gurski made 17 saves on 19 shots for the Giants.
GM and Head Coach Dan Price feels the team has continued to build good momentum and will be ready to take on the Everett Silvertips tomorrow night.
“We had some great chances tonight and a couple of close calls that just missed. Austin Zemlak had a great shot to score that really gave us some traction towards the end,” Price said. “Our focus tonight will be rest and recovery and we’re looking forward to playing Everett tomorrow.”