Victoria Royals Spoil the Party in Vancouver
VANCOUVER, BC – On a night where the 45/46 Vancouver Canucks team was honoured for their induction to the BC Sports Hall of Fame, the Vancouver Giants provided lots of entertainment, but not the end result the fans were looking for. The Victoria Royals weren’t dominant, but they were very opportunistic in a 6-4 victory over the hometown Giants. Vancouver mounted a valiant comeback from a 5-2 deficit to cut it to 5-4, and had a chance to equalize on a late 3rd period power play, but Victoria iced it on an empty netter to take game one of the back to back home and home series.
Steven Hodges opened the scoring on the power play at 2:25 after a lucky bounce off the corner boards caught Liam Liston out of his net. Three minutes later, Cain Franson scored his first of 2 on the night after a wrap-around fade-away that found an opening short side on Patrick Polivka.
After a relatively uneventful 10 minutes that followed, Steven Hodges broke down the left wing and snapped a shot from the left circle short side on Liston to give Victoria a 2-1 lead going into the locker room.
In the 2nd period, despite the Giants picking up their game and carrying the play, the Royals were able to get a pair of goals against the flow of play. At 4:51, Brandon Magee had a great individual effort where outmuscled several Giants to get behind the net and then was able to walk out front and snap a couple of shots on Liston, the 2nd of which found its way in to give Victoria a 3-1 lead. About 10 minutes later, at 15:37, again against the flow of play, a neutral zone turnover led to a Ben Walker breakaway, and he made no mistake going high glove on Liston to give the Royals their 3rd unanswered goal and a 4-1 lead. Three minutes later, at 18:30, while on a power play, Cain Franson was able to get the Giants back into it with a lucky bounce off a stick on a shot from the slot, and it trickled through the legs of Polivka to cut the deficit to 4-2.
John Neibrandt almost tied it on a shorthanded buzzer beater, but Polivka came up big on the play and the Royals took a 4-2 lead into the 3rd.
In the final frame, the Royals got what looked to be the insurance marker just 37 seconds in, just after a power play had expired. Joe Hicketts ripped a slap shot from the left point that found its way through a screen to put Victoria up 5-2. But just when it looked like the game was a lost cause, the Giants found some puck luck. Brett Kulak and Nathan Burns scored goals 3 minutes apart to pull Vancouver to within one.
They pressed hard for the equalizer as well, and even had a late power play, but they were unable to convert, and ultimately the Royals’ Logan Fisher iced the game with a last minute empty netter to give the Royals a 6-4 victory.
The Giants heavily controlled the shot clock in the final 40 minutes, and wound up outshooting the Royals 30-18 on the night.
Vancouver’s special teams troubles from the pre-season carried over to game one of the regular season. They went 1 for 5 on their own power play but gave up 2 power plays goals on 4 Victoria opportunities.
Liam Liston went the distance for the Giants, surrendering 5 goals on 17 shots, while Patrick Polivka picked up the win for the Royals while making 26 saves on 30 shots.
The two teams are right back at it Saturday night in Victoria for a 7pm face-off at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.