Victoria climbed out of the Western Hockey League’s basement on Friday as a 5-4 win over Seattle gave the now-rolling Royals its third overtime victory in four games.
It was a rough start to the season for Victoria, as the local club only had one win after the first two months of play. But then the team didn’t play a game for two weeks in November as COVID-19-positive opponents and last month’s floods caused an unexpected break in their schedule.
After the fortnight off, the Royals have risen anew – winning four of the last five and taking down three of the western conference’s top four teams in the process.
The Seattle Thunderbirds had a 1-0 lead at home after the first period on Friday. After each team added a goal early in the second, the Royals would get a five-minute powerplay midway through the period. Bailey Peach tied the game on the man advantage when he grabbed a rebound and, as he spun back toward the net, shot it past the Seattle netminder. The Thunderbirds then regained the lead while still shorthanded from the major penalty.
A Keanu Derungs one-timer tied it late in the second and after both teams scored in the third, the Royals were off to their fourth-straight overtime game.
With two minutes left in OT, Peach brought the puck into the offensive zone but couldn’t stickhandle around two Seattle defenders. The puck, however, popped out back to the slot, where a trailing Gannon Laroque pulled it into his body before putting a snapshot past the goalie’s blocker side for the win.
The game was another tough test for Victoria, said head coach Dan Price, noting how his players trailed Seattle early and late.
“They stuck with the process and rose to the challenge and the entire depth of the lineup contributed,” Price said. “The coaches are very proud of the players’ effort, consistency and resilience.
Victoria continues its road trip on Saturday with a matchup against the Winterhawks in Portland. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.
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