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Portland Winterhawks rally late to beat Royals in overtime

Portland downs Victoria 7-6

A collapse cost the ­Victoria ­Royals for the second ­consecutive Western Hockey League game.

The host Portland Winterhawks, trailing 6-4 late in the third period Friday night, scrubbed a two-goal deficit in the final three minutes and 10 seconds of regulation time with a pair of goals with the goaltender pulled to send the game to extra time. Portland won it 7-6 on a goal by Kyle Chyzowski in overtime that pinged off both posts before going in.

It followed Wednesday’s game when Victoria squandered a 4-0 first-period lead in a 5-4 loss to the Americans in Kennewick, Washington.

Victoria trailed three times Friday, tying the game each time, before 6,400 fans at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Danish-import Marcus Almquist put Victoria in the lead 5-4 at 11 minutes of the third period and Jake Poole extended that to two goals at 14:20 and that looked to be enough but this is junior hockey.

Gable Klassen pulled the Winterhawks to within one at 16:50 on an assist from the mobile blueliner Luca Cagnoni, the 34th-ranked North American skater for the 2023 NHL draft. Chaz Lucius made his WHL debut with the Winterhawks count as he tied it 6-6 at 18:41. Lucius was a member of the bronze-medallist U.S. team this month in the world junior championship in Halifax. He is signed to an NHL entry-level contract by the Winnipeg Jets and began this season in the pro American Hockey League with the Jets’ affiliate Manitoba Moose before being sent to junior in Portland following the world juniors.

The Winterhawks, 29-8-3 and an honourable mention in the Canadian Hockey League top-10 poll, won the season series against the Royals 4-0.

Western Conference ninth-place Victoria (12-26-5) managed a point and has points in five of its last seven games and has gone 7-3-2 in its last 12 games in its bid to close the gap on eighth place and a playoff spot.

Victoria is now two points behind the eighth-place Kelowna Rockets with the Rockets ­beating the Vancouver Giants on Friday night in Langley. The Rockets have three games in hand on Victoria.

Teague Patton led Victoria with two goals with Almquist, Poole, Alex Thacker and Reggie Newman scoring the others. Blueliner Justin Kipke had two assists for the Royals. James Stefan led the Winterhawks with two goals while Lucius had a goal and assist.

Braden Holt made 39 saves in goal for Victoria and Dante Giannuzzi 28 for Portland.

The Royals head to eastern Washington to meet the Chiefs in Spokane Saturday night before ending the road trip on Sunday in Kelowna against the Rockets.