Victoria Royals coach Dan Price asked for that extra measure, that extra goal, against the Kelowna Rockets. He got it as Bailey Peach converted a Tarun Fizer pass for the winner at 13:43 of the third period, with Fizer adding an empty netter, in a critical 4-2 Victoria victory over the Rockets at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Tuesday night.
Although the season series reads 9-2 from Kelowna’s viewpoint, it is 2-5-4 from Victoria’s perspective, with four of those Kelowna victories recorded in overtime or shootout, hence Price’s pre-game plea to finish off more strongly against Kelowna.
The old sporting adage of your best players needing to be your best players held as captain Fizer extended his points streak to seven games, with five goals and 15 points in that stretch, and Peach pushed his team goals lead to 34 on the season. Goaltender Tyler Palmer was again a factor with 28 saves to be named first star in recording his third consecutive win in as many starts.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now after a season of injuries and COVID protocols,” said Palmer, who made a timely glove save on a two-on-one in the third period with the score tied 2-2.
“I was pretty sure he was going to pass it, which he did, and it went right into my glove.”
Every centimeter of ice was grimly contested with both teams having much to play for, with the Royals with more at stake with their very season on the line. The fifth-place Rockets (34-17-6) are four points adrift of fourth place and home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. For Victoria (20-34-6), it already feels like the playoffs as they attempt to get there. The Royals, in seventh place in the Western Conference, moved three points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs and Prince George Cougars, in the battle for a playoff berth. Eight teams will advance to the conference post-season. The Cougars have three games in hand on the Royals and the Chiefs one.
Riley Gannon scored his 20th goal for Victoria while Danish import Marcus Almquist scored the other for the Royals. Gabriel Szturc and Mark Liwiski scored for Kelowna.
The teams meet again tonight at the Memorial Centre.