Dan Price said certain moments in sports, perhaps by providence, are put there to test teams.
One such moment came late Wednesday night for the Victoria Royals when the Tri-City Americans scored with 1.6 seconds remaining in the third period to tie their Western Hockey League game 3-3. Victoria had led 3-0 heading into the third period before six-foot-four winger Parker Bell from Campbell River scored two of the three unanswered Americans goals to force overtime, including the last-gasp goal to tie it. The Royals couldn’t help but be deflated by the startling turn of events.
“This was our test,” said the Royals GM and head coach Price.
“How would we respond? Our response in overtime was the biggest story line for me.”
Captain Tarun Fizer won it 4-3 for the Royals on a breakaway in extra time.
“It showed a great deal of maturity to respond like that,” said Price.
“Tarun got really big in the moment and very present.”
Fizer has been outstanding for Victoria since being sent back to junior from the Colorado Eagles of the pro AHL. He had a goal, two assists and nine shots against Tri-City after posting a hat-trick on a four-point game the night before in Spokane in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Chiefs.
The resurgent Royals have three victories in their past four games and have earned points in six of their past seven contests.
Victoria’s games in Spokane and Tri-City were early-season crucial tests at the foot of the Western Conference table in that the Chiefs (5-11-3 for 13 points) and Americans and Royals (both 4-11-3 for 11 points), along with the Prince George (7-13 for 14 points), are at the moment vying for the eighth and final playoff position.
The Royals play the Seattle Thunderbirds (13-6-1) tonight in Kent, Washington, and the Winterhawks (8-10-3) on Saturday in Portland to finish off their four-game road trip through the U.S. Division.