Royals Extend Win Streak to Four With Pivotal 5-3 Victory Over Cougars
Prince George, BC – December continues to roll along as the Victoria Royals (18-11-0-2) made the trek up north to square off with the WHL-leading Prince George Cougars (21-8-0-0). It was the third of eight meetings on the season between the two B.C. Division foes and the first of back-to-back matchups.
Both teams came into action with momentum behind them as each squad had strung together three straight victories coming into the night.
Braden Holt returned to the crease for Victoria after backstopping the Royals to a 5-4 victory over the Thunderbirds on Tuesday, while 17-year-old phenom Joshua Ravensbergen looked to continue his steady play for the Cougars.
The first period was unlike any of the first periods in which the two teams had played against each other this season as neither team was able to find the back of the net in the opening twenty minutes of play. The first encounter saw a combined five goals in the opening frame, while the second game showed one on the scoresheet.
Not only was the game scoreless after twenty, neither side ventured into the penalty box as the level of discipline was evident from both sides.
That quickly changed in the second period as the Royals stormed out to start the middle frame with a plan in place. Victoria grabbed three goals in 49 seconds as they left the home side shell-shocked. Opening the scoring was Tanner Scott as he tallied his 13th of the season with assistance from his linemates, Reggie Newman, and Robin Sapouŝek.
Just 17 seconds later, it was Dawson Pasternak finding the back of the net after receiving a pass from Ben Riche before he dragged the puck from across his body to outwait Ravenbergen before slotting a wrist shot to make it a two-goal Royals lead.
Riche and Pasternak were not done there as they combined for another Royals tally 32 seconds later as Victoria made it a trifecta of early second-period goals. That was enough to prompt a goaltending change for the Cougars as Ty Young came in for relief of Ravenbergen.
The Cougars would respond quickly to get back into the contest as the WHL leader in goals Zac Funk showcased his abilities, tallying his 31st goal of the season to make it a two-goal game once again. Funk wasn’t done there as he added his second of the contest in quick succession to pull Prince George within one.
They would even up the score late in the middle frame as Riley Heidt etched his name into the scoresheet, grabbing his 15th of the season with just under two minutes to go in the period. That was the final entry into what was a wild second period.
The Royals restored their one-goal lead early in the final frame as Casper Evensen Haugen grabbed his sixth goal of the season. Haugen stole the puck in the offensive zone prior to unleashing a wicked wrist shot that elevated high and over the shoulder of Ty Young.
As the period progressed, Victoria looked poised to extend their lead to two, and they would do just that. It was Ryan Spizawka finding the back of the net for the first time on the season as he tapped home a perfect back-door pass from Justin Kipkie. The goal from Spizawka was his fourth point in his last four games.
The Cougars would look to strike back in the final stages, trailing by two, and they would get a good chance as they went to work on the first two powerplay opportunities of the evening.
Braden Holt stayed resilient throughout the penalty kill for Victoria as he steered away several chances from the Cougars as their comeback efforts would fall short.
Victoria earned a massive 5-3 victory over the league’s top team, helping them pull within just four points of the Cougars.
Ryan Spizawka continued his strong play of late with his first goal of the season. After the game, he chatted about his team’s confidence of late as they continue to play their game.
“It’s huge going into tomorrow just to have a statement there. I thought we managed puck really well. There’s times where we didn’t and unfortunately they were able to get some goals there, but when we did, we were really on our game.”
“It felt really nice to get the boys some insurance there in a close game like that. I was just was able to catch their guys sleeping in the back door and some great vision by Kipkie who found me sliding in unattested.”
“We had good really breakouts, first of all. So spending less time in the defensive zone was huge for us. I thought we were really good off the rush today. Some some good passing plays and we were able to get them in their zone and test their goalies a solid amount.”
Head Coach James Patrick said the team was excited about the opportunity at bay to play the top team in the conference.
“Coming into the game, we knew it was going to be a really big test, but it was also an awesome, and fun opportunity for our guys to play against a really good team. To be really challenged, we knew that they had to play at their best.”
“Braden Holt was outstanding. He’s just continued to play really good hockey as of late. When I look at the whole game, yes. There was mistakes made by both teams. But at key points of the game we got great saves. We got a heck of a kill in the third period and we did a really good job with their goalie pulled. Six on five, six on four, those were, you know, really good key moments, and some really good learning points for us.”
“You have to respect how good a team they are. But if we really play good defensively, and we focus on our defense and we manage the puck well, then I believe we have the offensive talent that when we get chances we showed tonight, we will have a good chance in the second game.”
0:34 – Victoria Royals Goal
Tanner Scott (13) assisted by Reggie Nemwan and Robin Sapouŝek
0:51 – Victoria Royals Goal
Dawson Pasternak (10) assisted by Ben Riche
1:33 – Victoria Royals Goal
Ben Riche (11) assisted by Dawson Pasternak
4:47 – Prince George Cougars Goal
Zac Funk (31) assisted by Riley Heidt and Ondrej Becher
14:40 – Prince George Cougars Goal
Zac Funk (32) assisted by Hunter Laing and Ondrej Becher
18:15 – Prince George Cougars Goal
Riley Heidt (15) assisted by Zac Funk and Terik Parascak
1:29 – Victoria Royals Goal
Casper Evensen Haugen (6) unassisted
13:54 – Victoria Royals Goal
Ryan Spizawka (1) assisted by Justin Kipkie and Cole Reschny
Shots On Goal
Royals – 21
Cougars – 38
Royals – 0/0
Cougars – 0/2
Braden Holt – 35/38
Joshua Ravensbergen – 8/11
Ty Young – 8/10
Victoria will wrap up their lengthy five-game road swing tomorrow night as they square off with the Prince George Cougars for the second time in as many nights. Puck drop is slated to take place at 6:00PM at the CN Centre in Prince George.