The Victoria Royals have staved off the Vancouver Giants in a tightly contested 7-game series, and will be moving on to battle the Tri-City Americans in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Griffen Outhouse was once again tremendous in the win, making 30 saves on 33 shots, with none being bigger than the breakaway save he made with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game.
Early on, however, it looked as though the Royals might run away with the game. Goals from Chaz Reddekop, Lane Zablocki, and Matthew Phillips within 8 minutes gave them a 3-0 lead with over half the 2nd period remaining.
But a bit of controversy and a relentless Giants forecheck made the game a little bit more interesting – and perhaps a bit more stressful as well.
Igor Martynov appeared to have squeaked the puck past Giants goaltender Trent Miner in the 2nd period to make it 4-0, but a quick whistle called back what appeared a clear goal, keeping the Royals lead at 3-0.
It was after that that the ice slowly tilted in the Giants’ favour.
The Giants scored less than 2 minutes after the non-call, and despite Phillips scoring his 2nd of the night to make it 4-1, they buried 2 goals within 5 minutes to put the score at 4-3 heading into the 3rd period.
But Griffen Outhouse kept them out of his house.
10 Giants shots in the third period, including sustained pressure for the final 8 minutes of the game made it seem as though anything was possible, but Outhouse made sure nothing found twine.
The Royals would hold on to provoke a rumbling cheer from the 6,500 fans at Save-On-Foods Memorial Center, who breathed a collective sigh of relief once the final horn went.
After a hard earned victory, Victoria is set for round 2 this Friday!
O Captain! My Captain!
Victoria Royals captain Matthew Phillips was simply outstanding over the final 4 games of the series against the Vancouver Giants.
After being held goalless with 2 assists in the first 3 games of the series, Phillips found a completely new level, willing the Royals to a series win. Given the injuries to Tyler Soy and Tanner Kaspick, the timing could not have been better.
The shifty winger was in on all four game winning goals in the series, assisting on Jeff de Wit’s game winner in game 2, Dante Hannoun’s winner in game 4, and dropping a beautiful pass for Noah Gregor to score in overtime of game 6. And, as the story book goes, he scored the series winning goal in game 7 tonight.
To top it all off, he finished the series on a four-game goal scoring streak where he also scored at least 3 points. Incredible.
Credit must also be given to his linemates, Dante Hannoun and Noah Gregor, who were also impressive over the final games of the series. Hannoun finished the series with a 4-game point streak, amassing 11 points over that span – including an epic 5 point (1g, 4a) performance in game 4.
Gregor, meanwhile, finished the series on a 6-game streak with 10 points, including the all important overtime winner in game 6.
It was an incredible performance by the trio, and if Soy and Kaspick are able to heal up at all, could give the Royals some serious offensive punch as they get ready for Tri-City Friday night.
Round 2 – Victoria Royals vs. Tri-City Americans schedule
Friday, April 6th – Tri-City @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, April 7th – Tri-City @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday, April 10th – Victoria @ Tri-City – 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, April 11th – Victoria @ Tri-City – 7: 05 p.m.
Friday, April 13th – Tri-City @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Sunday, April 15th – Victoria @ Tri-City – 5:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Wednesday, April 18th – Tri-City @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)