The Vancouver Giants were supposed be The Rivalry for the Victoria Royals when the latter began play in the WHL in 2011-12.
It hasn’t played out that way in the cross-strait derby, mainly because this has been a down era for the Giants.
Yet if there are more games like Saturday night’s rousing 5-4 Vancouver overtime victory before 6,129 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, something may yet come of this matchup.
The clubs meet each other more than any other respective opponents — 10 times per season.
Ty Ronning’s power-play goal, with 13 seconds remaining in overtime, decided it after Matthew Phillips missed several opportunities for Victoria (17-15-4). “Ryan Kubic is a good goalie and he read my breakaway in overtime perfectly,” said Phillips, who earlier had scored his league second-leading 24th goal of the season.
Jack Walker banked in a goal for a 4-3 Victoria lead at 8:44 of the third period as the Royals rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Thomas Foster tied it for Vancouver (13-18-3) at 18:42 with Kubic pulled for an extra attacker.
“We can’t keep spotting teams a couple of goals. We have to be better aware [in early parts of games],” Walker said.
Dave Lowry coached his 300th regular-season game for the Royals (179-100-21). “We had chances to win tonight,” he said. “But we’ve been giving up two-goal leads for too long and that won’t be happening in the second half of the season. We are not where we expected to be. There is work to do.”
It was Teddy Bear Toss Night, in which the first Royals goal triggered an avalanche of stuffed toy animals thrown onto the ice by the fans and donated to charity.
The Royals pressed hard for that goal before Jack Flaman scored against the grain for Vancouver at 9:56 on a shot between the wickets of Victoria starter Griffen Outhouse. That was followed by a Giants power-play goal ripped home by Edmonton Oilers-prospect Tyler Benson.
The fur finally flew when rookie Eric Florchuk scored his second goal of the season for Victoria at 15:57. Florchuk joined previous Royals Teddy Bear goal scorers Zane Jones (2011), Austin Carroll (2012 and 2013), Axel Blomqvist (2014) and Ethan Price (2015), the latter who assisted on Florchuk's goal Saturday.
A soft floater by Jeff Rayman made it 3-1 for Vancouver at 17:53 of the first period. That was it for Outhouse, as he was replaced by Dylan Myskiw in the Victoria goal. Myskiw was outstanding in making 24 saves but had to give way to Outhouse in the overtime period because of an injury or equipment issue. Defenceman Chaz Reddekopp, on the power play, scored Victoria’s other goal.
Both teams are banged up. Missing for Victoria were forwards Tyler Soy, Ryan Peckford, Jared Dmytriw and defenceman Scott Walford. The next Royals games are Dec. 27 and 28 at the Memorial Centre against the Prince George Cougars.