Victoria will head south to play Seattle for their next game on Saturday Photo by Victoria Royals.

Forward Jake Poole collected two goals in his first game back from injury as the Victoria Royals fell to the Saskatoon Blades 6-4 on Friday at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

Poole’s presence on the ice was felt from the opening face-off, and he would head-man a furious comeback attempt in the second and third after a slow start that saw the Royals surrender five goals in the opening frame.

Despite their best efforts, the Royals would ultimately be unable to overcome the early deficit, and with a trio of upcoming games against the first-place Seattle Thunderbirds, Poole emphasized the importance of getting out to a strong start as a key to success:

“We have to be ready,” said Poole postgame. “Ready to do the little things right. I think at this time of year, getting close to the playoffs, you want to make that push and it’s the little things that matter.”

General Manager and Head Coach Dan Price echoed the sentiment expressed by his 20-year-old forward:

“That’s something as a coach you take really personally,” said Price. “[I]t’s the coach’s job to make sure everyone is ready to play…So I need to make sure we never let that happen again, and as a staff we never let that happen again.”

“We know we can play with any team, and win, but that takes a lot of work, a lot of preparation, a lot of consistency, a lot of commitment to do it for three periods every single game,” added Price.

The Royals also benefited from a multi-point night from forward Alex Thacker, who collected a pair of assists, while Victoria starting goaltender Braden Holt made 12 saves on 17 shots before being replaced by backup Nicholas Cristiano, who stopped nine of 10 over the final two frames.

Meanwhile, forward Egor Sidorov would finish as the top-performer for Saskatoon, recording four points on two goals and two assists, while starting goaltender Ethan Chadwick made 31 saves on 35 shots in the win.

Saskatoon (36-13-3-1) forward Jake Chiasson (15) would open the scoring at the 6:17 mark of the first period, giving the visitors an early 1-0 lead.

The Blades would increase that lead to 2-0 on a subsequent powerplay goal by forward Trevor Wong (19) at 8:43 of the first.

Wong (20) would then collect his second of the period with a short-handed marker at the 9:50 mark to put Saskatoon up 3-0.

The Blades would add two more in the back-half of the frame on goals by forwards Egor Sidorov (32) at 18:58 and Connor Roulette (20) at 19:05, putting them up 5-0 headed into the second period.

Victoria (15-33-5-1) would break the shutout on a goal by forward Jake Poole (28) at the 0:44 mark of the second period, with forward Alex Thacker on the assist.

The Royals would then cut the Blades lead to 5-2 on a goal by Tanner Scott (11) at 4:21 of the second. Forward Marcus Almquist and defenceman Justin Kipkie would count assists on the play.

Victoria would keep up the pressure and pull within two on Jake Poole’s (29) second of the night at the 14:25 mark, assisted once again by Alex Thacker, as well as forward Brayden Schuurman.

However, Saskatoon forward Egor Sidorov (33) would momentarily put a stop to the Victoria comeback attempt with his second goal of the game at 16:35 of the third, but the Royals would once again cut the lead to two on a marker by forward Carter Dereniwsky (6) at the 17:44 mark, bringing the score to 6-4 entering the third.

Forward Teague Patton and defenceman Jason Spizawka would pick up assists on the play.

Despite a number of opportunities throughout the third period, Victoria would be unable to further their comeback cause and the Blades were content to play keep-away for the remainder of regulation, allowing them to take home the 6-4 victory.

Looking ahead, the Blades will resume their tour of the Western Conference with a matchup against the Vancouver Giants in Langley on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Royals will head south for the first of three consecutive matchups against the Seattle Thunderbirds at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, WA at 6:05 pm on Saturday, Feb. 18.