The Victoria Royals came up with their biggest win of the Western Hockey League season on Saturday night, dumping the Spokane Chiefs 4-1.
Ben Walker’s goal, with 25 seconds to go in the second period, held up as the game-winner as the Royals handed the Chiefs - the top team in the WHL and No. 3 ranked club in the entire Canadian Hockey League - just their third loss of the season, and first defeat at home.
The Chiefs hammered on the Royals 6-2 and 6-1 in Victoria back in late September, something that was not lost on Victoria head coach Dave Lowry.
“We needed to prove a lot to ourselves. Those two games at home against us, they had their way with us and we had to make sure we were ready to work and ready to compete,” said Lowry, who was delighted with the effort.
“The guys did a really good job at that tonight. We got the first goal and it allowed us to settle in and play our game.”
Goaltender Coleman Vollrath was spectacular in net, stopping 41 shots in his first start since October 1 when the Royals were blanked 2-0 in Prince George.
“It was a nice win, our guys played real hard,” said Lowry. “We got great goaltending and a great effort from everybody. Coleman made some timely saves, the power play got us a goal and the penalty killing did a great job. We didn’t take a lot of penalties.”
Tyler Soy, with his second of the season, opened the scoring for Victoria, which led 1-0 after one period. Logan Nelson extended his point streak to eight games with an assist on the play.
Mike Aviani, who scored four goals and an assist against Victoria in that 6-1 Spokane win last month, tied it at 1-1 for Spokane at 15:38 of the second period before Walker restored the Royals’ lead late in the frame.
Brandon Fushimi made it 3-1 on a breakaway late in the game and Logan Fisher added an empty-net tally for the victors.
The Royals - who have played the most games in the league at 15 - will next play host to the Kelowna Rockets in a two-game set on Friday and Saturday at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
On Saturday, they limited league-leading scorer and point-getter Mitch Holmberg to just one assist and killed off both Spokane power-play opportunities.
Victoria also managed the win without Brandon Magee in the lineup for the second straight night as he sits out with what is being described as a lower body injury.
Magee also missed Friday’s 4-2 road loss to Tri-City.