Gone is the time that was so divine.
The Victoria Royals have lost two straight games following an eight-game stretch in which they went 7-0-1.
The Prince George Cougars (16-30-6), clawing to remain relevant in the WHL playoff picture, aided their cause with a 6-2 victory over the visiting Royals (27-19-4) on Friday night before 1,518 fans at CN Centre.
“It was tough travel. We didn’t get to the hotel until 7 a.m. [following an overnight bus trip after Thursday evening’s 6-1 loss in Kelowna], but we’re not making excuses,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry.
“And we won’t make any [in tonight’s rematch of the two-game set in Prince George].”
Prince George native Chase Witala, a rare WHLer on his hometown team, gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead before Victoria leading scorer Alex Gogolev displayed his soft hands on the short side to pull the Royals to within one at 3:50 of the second period.
Prince George, however, was quick to respond less than two minutes later as defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky’s meandering point shot somehow skipped into the net behind Victoria starting goaltender Coleman Vollrath.
A pivotal moment came soon after with Victoria on the power play and pressing when Colin Jacobs of Prince George got the puck and began racing the other way. Jacobs was pulled down by Victoria defenceman Jordan Fransoo and awarded a penalty shot, which Jacobs converted at 7:14 of the second.
That was it for Vollrath, who left after making 20 saves on 24 shots. His replacement, Patrik Polivka, didn’t fare much better upon entering the game, as the Cougars soon scored another short-handed goal, this one by defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt at 8:46.
“I didn’t like the way our power play was operating [in going 1-7],” Lowry said.
“We couldn’t generate anything. It was one of those nights.”
Logan Fisher tipped home a Jack Walker shot on the power play to bring the Royals to within 5-2 at 14:01 of the second period. Witala scored his hat-trick goal in the third period to close out scoring.
After tonight’s game, the Royals return to Blanshard Street to host Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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