PRINCE ALBERT 1
It was only appropriate a team named the Royals should prevail in a matchup featuring these two cities.
The monarchal power pairing of Victoria and Prince Albert was reunited, at least for a night, on Tuesday. It wasn’t at Windsor Castle, but Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, where the Royals defeated the Raiders 3-1 before an announced crowd of 3,192.
But the victors looked rather disinterested in the lethargic midweek affair against a lowly non-conference opponent, as the Raiders (5-14-1) remained tied with Kootenay for the worst record in the WHL.
“We were fortunate to get two points,” said Royals coach Dave Lowry, in his pointed post-game remarks.
“Some veterans have to step up and take ownership of this group.”
If the Royals (12-8-2) were expecting a gimme, they had another thing coming. The Raiders looked the better team for large swatches of the game.
Matthew Phillips, who had set up to provide a screen for a point shot by Brayden Pachal, was credited with the winning goal at 2:21 of the third period. It was his Royals-leading 13th goal of the season. Phillips, an undersized prospect of the Calgary Flames, managed to get position near the crease against star Prince Albert rearguard Brendan Guhle, a second-round NHL draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres. That was the crucial play in an otherwise lacklustre and emotionally uninvolved game played by the hosts.
“We’re not satisfied with that effort,” said Phillips.
“But credit to Prince Albert. They worked harder. We got out-worked and out-competed. We got lucky tonight.”
Tyler Soy put the game on ice with an empty-net goal on a three-point night. Soy tied the record for the most goals by a Royals player, 101, since the franchise moved to Victoria from Chilliwack in 2011-12. It took Soy 232 games to reach that standard and the graduated Brandon Magee 252.
Jared Dymtriw took a Dante Hannoun pass on the power play to open scoring at 3:06 of the first period for Victoria. Other than that, the Victoria odd-man was inert in going 1-7: “We were trying too many passes when we should have simplified,” said Phillips.
The Raiders leveled 1-1 on the power play through a deflection by Loch Morrison at 16:11 of the second period.
Griffen Outhouse made 25 saves in goal for Victoria.
The Raiders gave their touted 18-year-old goaltender Ian Scott, projected for the second or third rounds of the 2017 NHL draft, the night off as Nicholas Sanders started and was very good in making 27 saves.
The Royals meet the undefeated-in-regulation-time Regina Pats, the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League, on Saturday at the Memorial Centre.