The Victoria Royals took another victory away from division rival Vancouver Giants, posting a 4-2 home game on Saturday (Feb. 26).
Putting the brakes on a Giants comeback in the third period with an empty net goal in the final minute, the Royals (15-31-4-1) kept pace with the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs vying for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
The win also marked the Royals’ third in the past four games against the Giants, who scored a 4-0 win in Langley the night before.
The teams’ final head-to-head game of the Western Hockey League regular season started slow, with no scoring in the first period before the Royals tallied three times in the second.
The first came 3:41 into the frame on a point shot from forward Tanner Scott, followed 38 seconds later when team captain Tarun Fizer converted a backhand shot after being sprung on a breakaway. Fizer took the puck end-to-end late in the period and with one second left, netted his second of the game and 10th of the season to make it 3-0 Royals.
Vancouver goals in the third by defenceman Alex Cotton, at the 14:26 mark, and forward Payton Mount less than two minutes later saw a nervous hush fall over the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre announced crowd of 3,900. However, the fate of the Giants was sealed with Scott’s second goal into an empty net.
Victoria goaltender Tyler Palmer had a busy night, stopping 28 of 30 shots, while Giants netminder Jesper Vikman, who shut out the Royals earlier last week, turned aside 16 shots.
Fizer, a product of Chestermere, Alta., has impressed since his return from injury earlier this month, recording 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in his past nine games.
Royals head coach Dan Price commended the captain on the leadership he’s displayed of late. “He’s always so well prepared. It starts with quality of character. He’s a consummate teammate, gives you everything he can possibly give you and he cares about winning over any individual accolades,” Price said in a press release.
The Royals next hit the ice Friday (March 4) in Kelowna, when they’ll play the first of two away games in as many days. Saturday sees Victoria take on the Blazers in Kamloops. Both teams are in the top half of the Western Conference standings.
The Portland Winter Hawks make their only visit of the season to Victoria next week, when they play the Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday nights (March 8 and 9) starting at 7:05 p.m.
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