Desperate teams are dangerous teams, as the Victoria Royals found out Wednesday night.
The Kamloops Blazers, scrambling to stay in the playoff picture, defeated the Royals 6-1 in a Western Hockey League Game at the Sandman Centre.
The result moved the Blazers (21-27-5) to within one point of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the final wild-card position in the Western Conference.
Royals rookie goaltender Brock Gould, who has fought the puck early in a few recent starts, did so again in allowing two goals on just five shots. Both of those were scored by Connor Zary, the first shorthanded, before Gould was pulled at 11:42 of the first period.
Veteran Griffen Outhouse didn’t fare much better as Zane Franklin and Brodi Stuart gave Kamloops a 4-0 first-period lead.
Victoria got on the board in the second period as Danish junior international Phillip Schultz scored on the power play in the second period for his fifth goal and eighth point in the last four games. Schultz deflected a shot by blueliner and third-round Montreal Canadiens draft pick Scott Walford, who recorded his eighth point in the past five games.
The Royals’ reverie was short-lived as the Victoria power play allowed its second short-handed goal of the night as Jermaine Loewen outreached a charging Outhouse on a 50-50 puck and made it 5-1 just over a minute later.
Zary completed the hat trick on the power play in the third period.
The Royals pressed, particularly with three consecutive Kamloops penalties to start the third period.
But Las Vegas Golden Knights prospect Dylan Ferguson of Lantzville was difficult to solve as he made 36 saves in goal for the Blazers to be named the game’s second star, behind Zary.
Victoria, second in the B.C. Division, fell to at 27-23-3 and remained six points clear of the third-place Kelowna Rockets, with one game in hand.
Meanwhile, veteran defenceman Ralph Jarratt and rookie forward Ty Yoder joined the Royals in Kamloops after injuries but neither dressed.
The Royals head north for games Friday and Saturday in Prince George against the B.C. Division and Western Conference bottom-dwelling Cougars (16-32-6).