Sunday, February 22, 2015

Royals find key in beating Rockets in regulation time

Kevin Light photo
  •  The Victoria Royals had to change the way they played against the Kelowna Rockets. Saturday night, in a 5-2 win, they finally found that winning formula. With hard work, a staple of the Royals and unusual discipline against a team that they consistently take physical liberties against, the Royals played a smart game in beating the Rockets in regulation for the first time in six attempts. When you go 1-4-0-0 in the first five encounters (one win in the first five games was in overtime) against the WHL leaders, why stick to the same game plan? It's like driving through an intersection on a red light expecting not to get hit. Change your driving habits, wait for a green light and the chances of a collision are reducing significantly. It will be interesting to see how the final two games between these two teams play out, but the Royals will need to play intelligent, opportunistic hockey, like they did last night in order to earn four more points against their BC Division rivals. While points mean little for the second place Royals, playing with pride will be. The two teams hook up for a third consecutive meeting Wednesday at Prospera Place. 
  • Despite what the final score looks like at the final buzzer, these two teams were tied at one after 40 minutes. The Royals opened the scoring on an ugly goal after Rockets goaltending Michael Herringer saw a puck slide past his left skate and the goal post. But surrendering that goal wasn't the back breaker. It was the Rockets inability to get secondary chances at the other end of the ice. In the offensive zone it was 'one and done' for the Rockets throughout the game. Tyson Baillie set up Dillon Dube on a pretty two way passing play, but outside of that chance, the visitors were 'pretty' ineffective in only their 10th loss of the season. 
  • My gut feeling was the longer the game remained tied, the greater chance the Royals had at pulling off the upset. Also the longer the Royals were playing at par with the Rockets, the more their confidence grew. Two goals in a span of 1:25 in the third period essentially put the game away. 
  • What type of a night was it for the Rockets? When the line of Rourke Chartier, Tyrell Goulbourne and Nick Merkley are a combined -10, you won't win hockey games. I thought it was an extremely tough two games for Chartier, who didn't find the back of the net despite several excellent scoring chances but found himself numerous times pasted along the boards with a good body check. 
  • While Logan Fisher earned four assists in the 5-2 win, I still think Tyler Soy is the Royals most affective forward. Soy is slight, but his compete level is high as is his hockey IQ. Soy makes smart plays and is a nice set up man for shooter Greg Chase. But unlike Chase, Soy was a constant on back to back nights and that's what makes him an impressive player to watch. Don't show up once and a while and make a dramatic impact. Make a mark every time your on the ice. 
  • It was a great weekend for hockey in Victoria. Solid crowds took in both games including 68 hundred and change at Saturday's tilt. While attendance is down about a thousand from when the Royals first made their mark on the Victoria landscape four years ago, the sports fan has the luxury of watching major junior hockey's best in one of the upper class arena's in the Western Conference. 
  • The Rockets loss was costly. Brandon was a winner in Saskatoon so the two teams are separated by just two points in the WHL standings. That is the exact same differential heading into the weekend.  

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