Keeping the Kelowna Rockets from blasting off in their own barn proved a challenge for the Victoria Royals Monday afternoon.
The Rockets scored three times in the second period and avoided a three-game sweep of the teams’ final regular season series by beating the Royals 5-4 at Prospera Place.
The win saw the Rockets regain first place in the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division. Victoria had overtaken Kelowna for first on Saturday with a 5-4 home win in overtime, after beating the Rockets 6-1 the night before at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
The Royals are at home for their next five games, starting with a Valentine’s Day affair Wednesday with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The busy week continues with games against Red Deer this Friday and versus Vancouver on Saturday. All three games start at 7:05 p.m.
The Royals sandwiched goals by Matthew Phillips – his 42nd, on a rare penalty shot – and Noah Gregor around a Kelowna goal from Kole Lind and enjoyed their only lead of the game midway through the first period.
But Kelowna scored the next four straight, with Lind’s second of the game tying it at 2-2 on a power play in the final minute of the first. Goals from Dillon Dube, Carsen Twarynski and Gordie Ballhorn pushed the Rockets’ lead to 5-2 in the second before Tyler Soy, with his 29th, got one back for the Royals late in the frame.
Andrei Grishakov made it a one-goal game with a mid-third period power play goal, but that was as close as the visitors could get.
Kelowna outshot Victoria 35-26 overall and went two-for-five on the power play, while the Royals went one-for-three with the man advantage.
Soy named WHL player of the week
Earlier on Monday the Royals learned that veteran forward Soy had been named the WHL On the Run Player of the Week. In three games last week, the Anaheim Ducks draft pick scored four goals and added four assists as the Royals went 2-1. His four-point game on Friday, against the Rockets, was the 10th such total in his WHL career.
Soy is currently the franchise career leader in goals (144), assists (165) and points (308). Teammate Phillips, whose current point streak is now a franchise record 18 games, set the new Victoria single-season points mark Monday and has 93 in 58 games. He is taking aim at the franchise record of 101 points, set by Mark Santorelli in 2007-08 when the team was known as the Chilliwack Bruins.