In their first meeting of the season, the revamped Victoria Royals doubled the Portland Winterhawks 4-2 in a back-and-forth affair.
In the first period, Royals captain Matthew Phillips came cruising down the right wing short-handed on a two-on-one with Tyler Soy, before sending a sneaky pass cross-crease that Soy shelved to make it 1-0 Royals.
The Winterhawks retaliated quickly and efficiently, however, with Winnipeg Jets prospect Skylar McKenzie cleaning up a rebound on the power-play, tying the game at 1-apiece.
Things stayed equal into the 2nd, but Phillips once again made an impact on the scoresheet, taking the puck down low and sending a cutting pass to rookie blueliner Matthew Smith to put the black and blue up 2-1.
After Portland tied it early in the 3rd, you could see a shimmer in Royals’ general manager Cam Hope’s eye as his two major trade deadline acquisitions, Tanner Kaspick and Lane Zablocki linked up for the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner.
Zablocki picked the Winterhawks’ pocket along the half-wall and found Kaspick alone in the slot, where he sniped it short side.
Phillips registered the insurance marker, his third point of the night and the Royals cruised to a 4-2 finish. Griffen Outhouse stopped 28 of 30 shots for the win.
First 3-game win streak since 7-0 start
The Royals came out of the gate flying this year, with zero losses in their first seven games of the season. Those lofty expectations were challenging to maintain, and after a difficult December where they went 3-6-0, some questioned which Royals to believe in; the October goal scoring dynamos or the defensively-challenged December squad?
Well, just like Cam Hope would have drawn it up, the team has gone 3-0 since the January 10th WHL trade deadline, giving them a fighting chance to climb back up the standings.
Matthew Phillips is on fire
At some point in mid-December, Matthew Phillips took it upon himself to do what captains do, which is lead by example. In the 12 games since December 15th, Phillips has been held without a point just once, scoring 8 goals and 13 assists over that span.
With 31 goals and 71 points in 46 games this season, Phillips is on pace for 111 points, which would completely smash his career high of 90 points set last year.
Victoria’s next two games are on the road against Kelowna and Vancouver on Friday, January 19th and Saturday, January 20th. Given that they’re the two teams sitting above Victoria in the standings, they won’t be difficult games for the Royals to get up for.
Victoria returns home Saturday, January 28th for a weekend set against the Calgary Hitmen.