Against all odds, the Victoria Royals recorded the upset of the Western Hockey League season with a 4-3 overtime victory against the No. 2-ranked team in the CHL.
Bailey Peach converted a two-on-one break with a pass from Gannon Laroque at 27 seconds of extra time to tip the Everett Silvertips, despite Everett’s wide territorial advantage and 43-18 shots lead before about 3,000 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Evan Patrician’s second goal of the game, on just Victoria’s 14th shot, game tied it 3-3 at 15:44 of the third period. Niko Huuhtanen, at 3:32 of the third, period had given the Silvertips a 3-2 lead.
The game featured the team with the best winning percentage in the WHL and the team with the worst as the undefeated-in-regulation time Silvertips moved to (16-0-2) to extended their club record unbeaten streak to 18 games.
The Royals, with points in four of their last five games, moved to 3-11-2.
Victoria opened scoring 4:45 into the game as Patrician converted a backhanded pass from behind the goal by Reggie Newman. Everett leveled through a controversial goal by Jacob Wright at 13:24 that was reviewed but allowed. Silvertips defenceman Ronan Seeley drew an assist and the Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, defending WHL player of the week, has three goals and 10 points in his last six games.
Brayden Schuurman showed why he is ranked for the 2022 NHL draft by finding the short side for his eighth goal of the season at 5:25 of the second period to restore the Victoria lead. The Silvertips again tied it with a snappy shot by Matthew Ng at 9:22.
The Everett defence, led by the marvelous second-round Anaheim Ducks draft pick Olen Zellweger, is suffocating. It has enabled goaltenders Koen MacInnes to enter the game with a WHL second-best goals-against average of 1.62 and Braden Holt third at 1.64. The chances were at a premium for the Royals against 2022 NHL-rated Holt, who made 14 saves. Tyler Palmer was outstanding in goal for Victoria with 40 stops as saved the Victoria defence time and again from its many lapses.
It was the first game for the Royals against a U.S. Division team since March 8, 2020, in Portland and the first at home since playing Tri-City on Jan. 15, 2020. It was the first visit to Victoria for the Silvertips since Oct. 9, 2019.
After having not seen much of the American franchises, due to the pandemic and formerly closed border, the Royals will now more than get their fill of them. Friday’s encounter was the first of five consecutive games against U.S. Division teams. The Royals hit the Interstates for dates in Spokane on Tuesday, Tri-City on Wednesday, Seattle next Friday and Portland next Saturday.
ICE CHIPS: Royals forward Peach, a 20-year-old recruit from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, appeared in his 200th career CHL game.