VICTORIA 3 (SO)
One might have expected more of a perfunctory feel to Friday night’s penultimate WHL regular-season game between the Victoria Royals and Everett Silvertips at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
With the post-season looming next week, both playoff-bound teams might have been content to get out of it with as few dings, bumps and bruises as possible. But the game had, perhaps fittingly considering the time of year, more of a playoff-edge to it with tight checking and a touch of tension in a loud barn packed with 7,006 fans.
Regulation and overtime ended 2-2 before goals by Ralph Jarratt and Igor Martynov gave Victoria a 3-2 shootout victory. Brandon Cutler scored both Victoria goals in regulation time while Connor Dewar and Martin Fasko-Rudas replied for Everett.
The U.S. Division-champion Silvertips (46-16-5) still had something to play for — a race against the B.C. Division-champion Vancouver Giants for overall home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
Victoria (34-29-4) ended a four-game losing skid. The Royals finished with a home record of 21-11-2, which is among the top-10 in the WHL. The Royals have second place sewn up in the B.C. Division and will have home-ice advantage against Kelowna or Kamloops in a best-of-seven first-round playoff series beginning next Friday.
Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse, in his final career appearance of the regular season at Memorial Centre, made 35 saves in regulation and overtime. Also making his final home appearance for the Royals was rearguard Jarratt. Victoria’s other graduating 20-year-old, forward Kody McDonald, was injured and did not dress.
The Silvertips’ 2019 NHL-draft-projected goaltender Dustin Wolf from Tustin, California, made 28 saves in regulation and overtime, including three brilliant stops in OT. He continues a starry legacy in the Silvertips crease. Wolf succeeds Carter Hart, who has already played 23 games in the NHL for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Royals’ injury situation will bear scrutiny over the next week. Out were forwards McDonald, Kaid Oliver, Tyus Gent and Sean Gulka and defencemen Matthew Smith and Jameson Murray. Blueliner Mitchell Prowse was a healthy scratch.