Vancouver 7, Victoria 2
The Victoria Royals could be excused for riffing Britney Spears.
Oops, they did it again. The Royals lost their second consecutive game against the lowly Vancouver Giants (8-20) in dropping a 7-2 Western Hockey League decision Wednesday night before a subdued announced crowd of 4,561 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
The Giants beat the Royals 4-1 in their previous meeting, Oct. 26 at the Pacific Coliseum that commenced a six-game Royals losing streak to Nov. 9.
On Thursday, Victoria (15-13-1) had two-game winning and four-game unbeaten rolls ended. But the biggest streak snapped last night was Vancouver's seven-game losing skid that saw the club spiral into last place in the entire WHL.
"You have to keep selling hope," said Giants head coach Don Hay.
"You just have to stick with it and believe that if you keep working hard, things will turn around."
Maybe there was a brief flicker of that Wednesday.
The Giants have lost some close ones in their spiral of woe.
"You don't look at the record, you look at the opposition," said Victoria head coach Dave Lowry.
"Vancouver is a team that has played well but not gotten the breaks. They work hard and they put us back on our heels tonight."
Hay agreed that his team is perhaps better than its record.
"We probably deserve more points in the standings than we have," said the noted Vancouver bench boss. Veteran Cain Franson's ninth goal and 15th point in 12 career games against Victoria opened scoring at 17: 01 of the first period. Jackson Houck, ranked by Central Scouting as the 21st best WHL skater for the 2013 NHL draft, made it 2-0 with just eight seconds remaining in the opening period.
Kale Kessy pushed that to a three-goal advantage before the second period was a minute old. That was it for Victoria starting goaltender Patrik Polivka, who was pulled in favour of Coleman Vollrath.
"They [Giants] outworked us in our own barn and that can't be acceptable to anyone this room, myself included," said Royals forward Brandon Magee.
Victoria got on the board with a power-play own-goal off the stick of Giants defenceman Blake Orban that was awarded to Steve Hodges at 12: 35 of the second period as the 2012 Florida Panthers draft pick recorded his seventh goal of the season.
A shot from the left faceoff circle by Riley Kieser that surprised Vollrath restored Vancouver's three-goal edge at 15: 00. Buffalo Sabres-prospect Logan Nelson, banging home a Jesse Zgraggen rebound, brought the Royals to within 4-2 at 18: 35 of the second period with his eight of the season.
Unanswered third-period goals by Brett Kulak, Fran-son with his second of the night and Carter Popoff put it away for Vancouver.
"We knew they [Giants] were coming off some losses and would be pushing back," said Nelson. "They got that three-goal lead and nothing much happened after that on our part."
Vancouver's rising 16-year-old goaltender Payton Lee was solid in making 31 saves, while Polivka and Vollrath combined to make 21.
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