The Victoria Royals decided eight is enough. Well, sort of, as a seven-game losing streak became an eight-game winless run as the visiting Kelowna Rockets recorded a 4-3 WHL shootout win before 1,704 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, one of the smallest crowds in Royals club history.
The Rockets (19-10-4) were returning to action after having their previous two scheduled games postponed due to COVID protocols and won for the third consecutive game and are 8-2-1 in their last 11 contests.
Victoria (12-20-5) is 1-4-3 against a Kelowna club that has proved a tough nut to crack for the Island side. The Royals moved one point ahead of Tri-City in the race for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference but the Americans hold two games in hand.
“Puck management was an issue for us tonight and we need to clean that up,” said Royals coach Dan Price.
“The effort was there.”
Giving up the first goal, a recurring theme during the Royals slide, happened again when Jake Poole opened scoring on the power play for Kelowna at 11:45 of the first period.
Then Peach season came early with Royals forward Bailey Peach scoring twice at 10:19 and 15:12 of the second period to give Victoria the 2-1 lead. The first of those was on a four-on-four situation with a shot between the legs of Kelowna goaltender Talyn Boyko and the second on a rebound high into the net.
Reggie Newman, returning to the Victoria lineup, extended it to a two-goal advantage by redirecting a Tanner Scott shot on the power play at 17:56. Scott Cousins went in alone at 2:42 of the third period and Mark Liwiski at 11:34 to tie the contest.
Veteran Nanaimo-product Gannon Laroque had two assists on the night for Victoria.
Goaltender Campbell Arnold, another Royals player from Nanaimo, made 33 saves in a fine performance. Boyko blocked 18 shots for the Rockets.
Victoria went 1-2 on the power play and Kelowna 1-4.
The Royals and Rockets meet again tonight at the Memorial Centre before Victoria embarks on the road to meet the Blazers on Friday and Saturday in Kamloops to close out 10 games in 16 days.
ICE CHIPS: Five former WHL players have been named to the Canadian team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Adam Cracknell, out of the Juan de Fuca minor association and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, played for the Kootenay ice between 2002 and 2006, Landon Ferraro for the Red Deer Rebels and Everett Silvertips from 2007-2011, Adam Tambellini for the Calgary Hitmen in 2014-2015, Jordan Weal with the Regina Pats from 2007-2012 and Tyler Wotherspoon with the Portland Winterhawks from 2009-2013.