They got it from an unfamiliar source as Taylor Crunk recorded just his second tally of the season in a 5-1 victory against the Prince George Cougars in a Western Hockey League B.C. Division matchup at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Tim Traber picked up a loose puck and tried to stuff it by Cougars goalie Brett Zarowny. Crunk was right there to bang in the rebound to make it 2-1 at 18:58 of the first period and provide a needed spark.
“For us moving forward, that’s a critical element,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry. “We need secondary scoring. We’ve talked to those guys and just reinforced that they just can’t be satisfied playing and checking and, hey, they did a great job tonight.
“I thought our whole team played well. You lose a key guy and we needed some guys to eat up some minutes and we got contributions from everybody tonight, and moving forward, that’s what we’re going to need.”
Nelson left the game after an awkward fall in which he injured his left leg or foot. He was in the press box on crutches later in the second period, which means he could be lost for a stretch. The official line was he would be re-evaluated today.
Austin Carroll also slumped off the ice just before Crunk scored. Carroll did return for the second period and filled in nicely on a line with the Walker boys, Ben and Jack.
Ben Walker recorded his 11th goal of the season on a power play to give the Royals a 3-1 lead at 14:51 of the second as Victoria out-shot the Cougars 14-3 in the telling middle period. The shots were 8-0 midway through the stanza.
Prince George was the aggressor early, out-shooting Victoria 5-1 5:35 into the game. The Royals finally sustained some pressure eight minutes in and drew a penalty, courtesy of the Jamie Crooks, Brandon Magee and Steven Hodges line.
Nelson was injured and less than two minutes later Crooks cashed in on a 5-on-3 advantage shortly after Lowry had called a timeout. Crooks slid the puck by Zarowny at 10:06 and Magee, with his first of three assists on night, collected his 100th WHL point on the play.
Marc McNulty tied it up at 1-1 at 12:42 of first period before Crunk came to the rescue.
Magee, Crooks and Ben Walker all had three points on the night.
“It’s always fun playing with Carroll, he’s a big body,” said Ben Walker. “It was a bummer losing Nelly, but it was fun having my brother on the line. We played well and there was a little chemistry going on.”
Hodges and Ben Walker, with his second, scored 37 seconds apart midway through the third for Victoria.
Patrik Polivka, who absolutely robbed Caleb Belter on a power play with 7:15 to go in the third, made 19 saves in the win.
Crunk, Traber and Mitch Deacon turned in a solid night as foot soldiers.
“It was a huge goal for us and it came at a good time,” Walker added of the Crunk goal.
The two teams play again tonight at 7 at the Memorial Centre.
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