Blazers Edge Out Royals 3-2 in Tightly Contested B.C. Division Showdown
Victoria, BC – For the second time in as many nights, it was the Victoria Royals (14-11-0-2) and the Kamloops Blazers (7-14-3-2) squaring off at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in a B.C. Division clash. Victoria earned a 6-1 victory the night before and was looking to take down Kamloops for the third time this season.
Braden Holt made his second straight start for Victoria after stopping 29 saves on 30 shots he faced on Tuesday, while Jesse Sanche got the start for Kamloops after a night off on Tuesday.
The first period of play was at a different pace than the game on Tuesday night as the scoring didn’t materialize in the same early fashion. The game remained deadlocked at a scoreless state until late in the period when Robin Sapouŝek unleashed a howitzer from just inside the blueline in the final minute that evaded the reach of the Blazers’ defense before beating Sanche. Matthew Hodson and Austin Zemlak drew assists on the goal as Victoria picked up the first goal of the game.
Kamloops stayed resilient in the final minute, notching an equalizer just 30 seconds after the Royals opened the scoring. Ashton Ferster scored the goal, grabbing his fourth of the season with just ten seconds remaining in the first period.
As expected, that was the final entry into the game sheet during the first period as the game went into the intermission deadlocked at one apiece.
The middle frame continued to show a tightly contested affair as neither team was able to find the back of the net. The Blazers carried a large majority of the play in the period, outshooting Victoria 13-8, but Braden Holt stayed strong while slowing down the Kamloops surge.
In the final frame, the scoring picked up once again. It started with Cole Reschny showcasing chemistry with his linemates, Dawson Pasternak, and Ben Riche, as the three combined for a tic-tac-toe play. Reschny’s tally was his 11th of the season and fourth in his last two games. The Blazers responded quickly, just as they did in the opening period, as Conner Radke put the puck towards the net before it deflected off a Royals defender and ended up in the back of Victoria’s net.
The Blazers kept moving forward as they looked to gain their first lead of the evening, and they did just that as Connor Levis let a shot go from the blueline that took a deflection on its way through towards the Royals net, evading the reach of Braden Holt. That was the difference-maker for Kamloops as they took down the Royals by a 3-2 scoreline.
Post-game, Royals Head Coach James Patrick mentioned that they made some adjustments after last night and will look to do the same ahead of their next meeting on Friday. “We made some small adjustments after last night. I thought, for the most part, they worked. We just had two really costly breakdowns at the wrong time when the game was on the line,” stated Patrick. “I’m not going to point to one thing that has to be better. We just have to play our system. I thought the last six minutes of the game, we gave up way too many point shots from them, and that’s where they ultimately got the winning goal.”
Robin Sapouŝek continued his strong play as of late, grabbing his sixth point in his last four games. Patrick says this is just a testament to his work ethic. “He’s as hard of a worker as anyone in the league. He shows up every night, plays a 200-foot game. He works extremely hard, strong on the puck. He does a lot of little things, right,” claimed Patrick. “So he is a leader on the team as far as attention to detail, work ethic. He just leads by example. I’m not surprised at all by the success that he’s had.”
19:21 – Victoria Royals Goal
Robin Sapouŝek (13) assisted by Matthew Hodson and Austin Zemlak
19:50 – Kamloops Blazers Goal
Ashton Ferster (4) assisted by Andrew Thomson and Logan Bairos
9:34 – Victoria Royals Goal
Cole Reschny (11) assisted by Ben Riche and Dawson Pasternak
11:19 – Kamloops Blazers Goal
Conner Radke (2) assisted by Jordan Keller
16:28 – Kamloops Blazers Goal
Connor Levis (8) assisted by Ryan Michael and Nathan Behm
Shots On Goal
Royals – 31
Blazers – 27
Royals – 0/3
Blazers – 0/1
Braden Holt – 28/31
Jesse Sanche – 25/27
Victoria and Kamloops will continue their mid-season series on Friday evening at the Sandman Centre as the Royals and Blazers go to battle for the third time in just four nights. It will be the Blazers teddy-bear toss night as the Royals will do their best to keep the bears from flying with puck drop taking place at 7:00PM.