VANCOUVER 5 (SO) VICTORIA 4
It’s only fitting than an eight-goal regulation-time shootout should be decided by an actual shootout.
Justin Sourdif, a third-round NHL draft pick of the Florida Panthers, set the tone by scoring on the first Vancouver attempt in the shootout and veteran Tristen Nielsen followed up in the 5-4 Giants victory over the Victoria Royals at Prospera Place in Kelowna. The Giants (10-7) snapped a four-game Western Hockey League losing streak.
The Victoria Royals (2-13-2) snapped a 10-game losing streak the night before with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Prince George Cougars to avoid tying the franchise record of 11 consecutive games lost.
That dubious distinction avoided, the Royals gained at least a point in their second consecutive game. It was the first point Victoria has earned against a veteran-lade Vancouver squad in five games this season between the coastal rivals.
“For the first time in franchise history, the Royals had eight 16-year-olds in the line-up,” said Victoria GM and head coach Dan Price. “And those rookies got a great push against a much older Vancouver team. We skated really well tonight and moved the puck.”
Royals captain Tarun Fizer had a goal and assist. Victoria veteran Brandon Cutler, on the power play, scored his seventh goal of the season. Rookie Carter Dereniwsky scored his first career WHL goal. Swiss junior international Keanu Derungs, who returned to the Royals line-up with an assist Friday after missing 11 games to injury, scored the other Royals goal on the power play. NHL first-round Anaheim Ducks draft-pick Brayden Tracey, who deftly set up Friday’ overtime winner by Brayden Schuurman, added two assists against the Giants.
The Victoria goaltenders are by far the busiest in the league as the rookie-laden Royals blueline continues in its quest to find its footing. Rookie Connor Martin made 39 saves a night after veteran Adam Evanoff made 40 saves in the overtime win over Prince George.
Giants captain Alex Kannok Leipert scored for Vancouver along with Connor Horning, Kaden Kohle and Adam Hall. The Giants gave Colorado Avalanche draft pick Trent Miner the night off in goal. Rookie Drew Sim made needed to make only 15 saves.
The Victoria special teams, an issue all season, picked up its pace with the power play going 2-4 while holding the Giants to 1-5.
ICE CHIPS: The Royals meet the Kamloops Blazers on Monday and Thursday and Prince George next Saturday in the pandemic-truncated 22-game season … The WHL has administered 9,006 COVID-19 tests from February 12 through Friday with 14 positive test results.