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Victoria Royals goaltender stunning in 50-save shutout performance

Game 3 against the Vancouver Giants is Thursday in Victoria
Game 3 against the Vancouver Giants is Thursday in Victoria. (Photo by Christopher Kelsall)

Christopher Kelsall

Special to Victoria News

The Victoria Royals were back at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Wednesday for the second of three games in three nights against the Vancouver Giants. Game 1 was in Langley on Tuesday, where the Royals prevailed 3-1. Game 3 is Thursday in Victoria.

After an injury-filled start to the season, the Royals have been gradually climbing up the standings, chasing the Giants. The Royals have gone 7-2-1 during their most recent 10 games stretch. They continued the streak with a 3-0 win on Wednesday.

The Giants, with a strong start to their season have gone in the opposite direction as of late. During their last 10 games they have a lowly 3-7 record. Both teams are missing key players. The Giants are missing their two team-leading point-getters in Justin Sourdif who had collected 29 points in 21 games. Fabian Lysell is out, he has accumulated 28 points in 22 games. The Royals are missing 12 players including Colorado Avalanche draft pick Tarun Fizer as well as 20-year-old Evan Patrician who joined the Royals from the Saskatoon Blades. He is also a former Giants player.

With 8:23 remaining in the tepid first period, the Giants thought that they had scored on Royals goaltender, Tyler Palmer. They didn’t as Giants centre Ty Thorpe slid into the goaltender pushing him past the goal line, puck included. The goal was reviewed and disallowed. Shortly after, the busy ‘tender made two spectacular diving saves across the open net. “It’s nice to have a guy like Palmer back there that you can rely on to stop pucks,” said Hodson, post-game.

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While the first period was all Giants, all the time, the second period – as par for the course for the Royals this season – was all Victoria. Although outshot 13-9, they had the better chances. It was a far cry from the 19-5 shot differential of the first period.

“We can’t let 50 shots happen in a game. They had too many during the first period, but we did play a much more even game during the second and third periods,” coach Dan Price said. During that second period, the home team scored twice, once on a spectacular effort by Bailey Peach at 16:26. Behind the net, Peach flipped the puck into the air and onto the blade of his stick and scored a wrap around chest high to put the Royals up 2-0. The first star Tuesday, Brayden Schuurman, earned one of his two assists on the night on the play while Devin Aubin picked up the second assist.

“I couldn’t believe I did it. It just sort of did it without thinking,” Peach said.

“That was unbelievable,” added Hodson, an 18-year-old Saskatoon native who scored his first WHL goal to open the scoring at 5:45 of the second period. It was a one-handed redirection of a Carter Briltz shot – Igor Zborovskiy earned the second assist.

“He almost scored another one exactly like it when he first arrived, so I am not totally surprised that he did,” Price said. Hodson is happy to contribute. He has been injured for two years and after much physiotherapy and training, he is finally looking like he fits into the lineup.

“Sometimes during those two years, I would wonder if I would ever play again. So, I am so happy to be out there contributing. Now I just have to get up to the speed of the WHL again.”

Alex Edwards got on the ice for approximately 26 seconds at the end of the game. The Royals signed the 16-year-old out of Junior B on Wednesday. He arrived mid-way through the game. Edwards, from Grand Forks, BC played in the KIJHL for the Kelowna Chiefs. The 6’1” 190-pound forward had 12 points in 24 games so far this season. Regarding Palmer’s 50-save shutout, Palmer was all smiles.

He came off the ice and high-fived two lines of fans bordering the concourse to the dressing room. The 18-year-old Lethbridge native has been in the zone the entire season. Peach added an empty netter from just over the centre line with his 15th of the season at 18:52.

“I think he is really showing all the teams that passed on him that they made a mistake,” said Palmer. Shot totals were 50-21, while the powerplay went 1/4 for Victoria and 0/2 for the Giants.

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