Lack of discipline is absolutely destroying the Victoria Royals in the early Western Hockey League season. The winless Royals fell to 0-4 after blowing a 2-0 lead Saturday night in a 5-3 loss to Prince George as the Cougars (3-1) went 2-for-4 on the power play after going 4-for-9 on Friday night in an 11-2 victory.
“We had a lot of momentum and then the penalties came and the momentum shifted,” said veteran Royals forward Tanner Scott, about the Saturday loss.
“Discipline was the key. When we had no penalties in the first period, we controlled the game.”
The contest, played before 3,325 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, turned in the second period on a glaringly needless late hit by Victoria well after the whistle. The swift and talented Riley Heidt cut the Royals lead to 2-1 at 10:27 of the second period on the Cougars power play as Victoria defenceman Kalem Parker sat in the box. The two are Minnesota draft picks and had skated together in the NHL training camp of the Wild last week.
“It did change the momentum of the game and Kalem [Parker] knows that. But we’re not hanging this on him,” said Victoria head coach Dan Price.
Heidt connected again on the power play to tie the game at 17:53 of the second. Terik Parascak, with his fifth goal of the weekend and eighth of the season, gave Prince George the lead at 1:02 of the third period after a Royals penalty had just ended.
The Cougars then stuck the dagger with their third short-handed goal in two games as Carlin Dezainde scored at 9:31. The Victoria power play has now allowed three more goals (four) than it has scored on the season (one).
Scott and defenceman Austin Zemlak had given Victoria the 2-0 lead. Rookie Cole Reschny pulled the Royals to within 4-3 in the third period before Dezainde scored into an empty net for the Cougars. The best of the Royals was goaltender Braden Holt, who turned in a solid performance in facing 31 shots.
Victoria got 28 shots on Prince George goaltender Ty Young, who returned to the Memorial Centre after skating on Blanshard in the training camp of the Vancouver Canucks last weekend, where we was signed to an NHL entry-level contract.
The response from the 11-2 shellacking the night before was encouraging but it was still a loss.
“We can’t be satisfied with being close,” said Price.
“We need to correct the errors and we’ll win these games.”
About the discipline issue, Price responded: “We need to be calmer and more poised. It’s about having a level of maturity, which we deviated from a couple of times in the second period.”
Scott, who notched his second goal of the season, added: “The mood is not down. We definitely turned a page even if we lost tonight.”
ICE CHIPS: Truth and Reconciliation Day was commemorated with a moment of silence before the game … All WHL teams are wearing special helmet decals depicting the Truth and Reconciliation logo for the first week of the season … Heidt’s 72 assists last season tied him for ninth in all-time single-season WHL Victoria-Prince George Cougars franchise history …
The Royals are in Kamloops to play the Blazers on Friday and in Kelowna to meet the Rockets on Oct. 9 before returning to Blanshard to play the Everett Silvertips on Oct. 13 and Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 14.