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Cougars maul depleted Victoria Royals

PRINCE GEORGE 5 - VICTORIA 1 Fittingly a rainstorm was blowing into Victoria on Friday night because for the Victoria Royals, when it rains it pours.
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The Victoria Royals' Anthony Wilson breaks out of his own end in front of Prince George Cougar Kyren Gronick in WHL action at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

PRINCE GEORGE 5 - VICTORIA 1

Fittingly a rainstorm was blowing into Victoria on Friday night because for the Victoria Royals, when it rains it pours.

Minus seven players to injury and down to one healthy goaltender, the Royals were soundly beaten 5-1 by the Prince George Cougars in front of an announced crowd of 2,377 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

It was the Cougars (3-3) third straight win over the Royals (1-7) as the two teams are in the middle of playing six consecutive games against each other necessitated by the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel, forcing the B.C. Division teams to play only each other until mid-November.

Royals netminder Tyler Palmer did his best to keep it close for as long as he could but the Cougars blew it open in the second period with five unanswered goals after Keanu Derungs had given the home team a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal just 1:12 into the middle frame.

Royals GM and head coach Dan Price gave Palmer the mercy hook after the Cougars scored three times in a span of four minutes late in the second to take control. Sherwood Park, Alta., native Logan Cunningham, a 16-year-old AP call up from the Northern Alberta Extreme U-18 team, came in after Palmer gave up three goals on 26 shots.

But Cunningham was promptly beaten on the first shot he faced by Kaden Brown. It was the hometown Prince George product’s first career WHL goal. Palmer was sent back in to begin the third period, finishing with 34 saves. Cunningham allowed two goals on five shots.

Ryker Singer, on a breakaway, Jonny Hooker, Koehn Ziemmer and Craig Armstrong had the other P.G. markers in the middle frame. Cougars netminder Tyler Brennan made 19 saves to earn the victory.

The Royals’ power play continues to be a concern. After going 1-10 on Sunday in Prince George, the Royals were 0-5 on Friday night.

The Royals get another crack at the Cougars tonight at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre before the two teams wrap up their six-game set Tuesday and Wednesday at the CN Centre in Prince George.

LOOSE PUCKS: Help could be on the way for the Royals as newly acquired defenceman Neithan Salame could draw into the lineup tonight.

bdrewry@timescolonist.com