Defenceman Justin Kipkie scored a team-high two goals for the Victoria Royals in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Prince George Cougars on Saturday at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

It marked the first multi-goal game of the 17-year-old’s career and his fifth multi-point game of the season. The Calgary, AB product has totalled seven goals and 23 assists for 30 total points on the year, putting him in a tie with Kalem Parker for the most by a Royals defenceman this season.

Victoria would count four of its five goals in the contest from the blueline, with defencemen Jason Spizawka, Austin Zemlak collecting a goal a piece, along with the pair from Kipkie.

Despite the impressive offensive output by the club, the Royals would be unable to overcome an equally potent offensive night from Prince George.

Forward Chase Wheatcroft would lead the charge for the Cougars, scoring two game-tying goals in the third and the overtime winner, while adding one assist for a total of four points in the game.

Royals Head Coach Dan Price spoke postgame on the importance of staying locked-in for a full 60 minutes against a highly skilled team like Prince George, as well as for the upcoming matchup against Everett tomorrow night:

“The effort was there,” said Coach Price. “Nobody backed off, nobody tried to melt the clock or just run it out…Three critical errors resulted in three goals against and one point instead of two…We need to do a good job on teaching on that because we can’t make those errors tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

Royals starting goaltender Braden Holt would make 38 saves on 44 shots in the loss, while counterpart Ty Young would stop 29 of 34 for the Cougars.

Victoria (15-36-6-1) defenceman Austin Zemlak (3) would open the scoring on Friday, giving the home team an early 1-0 with a goal at the 0:29 mark of the first. Forwards Teague Patton and Teydon Trembecky would collect assists on the play.

However, Prince George (28-23-4-0) would answer back with a goal by defenceman Hudson Thornton (15) at 9:59 to tie the game at 1-1.

The Royals would re-take the lead before the end of the period, with defenseman Justin Kipkie (5) scoring at the 14:07 mark to put his team up 2-1 headed into the second.

Forward Brayden Schuurman would record the lone assist on the goal.

Victoria would increase their lead to 3-1 on a powerplay goal by Justin Kipkie (7), his second of the game, at 4:19 of the second period. Teague Patton and forward Riley Gannon would pick up the assists.

Momentum would remain in the Royals’ favour as the game passed its midway point, with forward Teydon Trembecky (9) giving them a 4-1 advantage with a goal at the 10:39 mark of the frame, assisted by forward Robin Sapousek.

However, the Cougars would use a pair of goals in quick succession by defencemen Ethan Samson (14) at 12:16 and Viliam Kmec (7) at 12:41 to shrink the Royals’ lead to 4-3 entering the third.

Prince George would then tie the game at 4-4 on a powerplay marker by forward Chase Wheatcroft (37) at 11:11 of the third.

But the tie wouldn’t last long as Victoria defenceman Jason Spizawka (1) netted the go-ahead goal at the 12:31 mark to put the Royals up 5-4 entering the final minutes.

However, Prince George’s Chase Wheatcroft (38) would tie the game for the second time in the period with a goal at 16:28 and the game would head to overtime with the score tied 5-5.

In the extra frame it would once again be Wheatcroft (39) coming up clutch for the Cougars, scoring the game-winning goal and completing the hat trick at 3:13 of the frame, bringing the final score to 6-5.

Looking ahead, the Cougars will return to Prince George to prepare for a matchup against the Vancouver Giants this Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the Royals will take on the visiting Everett Silvertips at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre tomorrow afternoon, Sunday, Feb. 26, with puck-drop set for 3:05 pm.
The team will hold its annual Star Wars Day celebration, featuring Star Wars cosplayers, a face-painter and a balloon artist at the arena.