The Kelowna Rockets drop the Victoria Royals to gain split in weekend series

(Christopher Kelsall photo)
(Christopher Kelsall photo)

Christopher Kelsall

Special to Victoria News

The Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets resumed their two-game weekend set at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Saturday, splitting the weekend series.

Saturday’s game started much the same way Friday’s did, with a Royals penalty. This time, however, the Rockets established a presence in the offensive zone. With time running out on the man advantage, 20-year-old defenceman Tyson Fiest rifled a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that went five hole on Royals goaltender Tyler Palmer. He will be wanting that one back.

Palmer, who earned the third star nod the night before, had a shaky first 10 minutes, but soon got it together only to be blitzed during the second period with 21 shots.

“To be honest, I don’t think there were that many dangerous shots, many came from the outside,” said coach Dan Price. “I don’t think the shot totals are indicative of the play.”

RELATED: Victoria Royals bounce back with 6-3 win over the Kelowna Rockets

Brayden Schuurman started off the night, similar to how he ended Friday’s game with a goal. The 17-year-old Abbotsford native scored at 8:37 of the first period to tie the game at one. Friday, he scored his first WHL hat trick. The third-year Royals player skated in on a high aerial pass, knocked it out of the air with his stick and then batted the puck past goaltender Cole Tisdale on the bounce. San Jose Shark 2020 fourth-round pick Gannon Laroque provided the timely lob from the neutral zone, to earn the only assist on the play.

The floodgates opened during the second period with six goals, four by Kelowna. Laroque and Keanu Derungs had a short discussion before an offensive zone face off on the man-advantage. Fiest was off for slashing at 7:20 of the second period. Derungs delivered the puck to Laroque and he stepped into the high slot and rifled a bullet, high blocker side for his first of the season. Evan Patrician, a former Vancouver Giants and Saskatoon Blades player, acquired on Thursday, earned the second assist on the play. It was his second game for Victoria. The wily, two-way veteran is expected to bring maturity to the young Royals core. Patrician drove all day Oct. 7 from Calgary to Vancouver, got on the last ferry and then played Friday.

“I am not going to lie, my legs were a little dead for Friday’s game. I forgot how much of a grind that drive is,” Patrician said. Asked if he got 12 hours sleep last night, he said, “yes, I didn’t leave the sheets.”

During that eventful second period, 19-year-old Derungs who hails from Kloten, Switzerland was awarded a penalty shot. He scored to tie the game 3-3 at 8:59. Derungs deked in deep, going low stick side on the forehand. The 2,143 in attendance (with COVID-19 restrictions) sounded like 5,000.

The Rockets got two more before the period ran out while firing 21 shots at Palmer for a two-period total of 31. Colton Dach, a Chicago Blackhawks second-round pick, was added into the Rockets line-up Saturday. He earned his first goal of the season.

Brett Hull fashioned the one-time shot from the knee during the 1990s, long before Schuurman was born. But Schuurman sure channeled Hull on a pretty, three-way passing play. Bailey Peach and Laroque tossed the puck around before feeding Schuurman in front of the net. With the goal, Schuurman matched his total from the 2020-2021 season, just three games into the season. The Rockets would add one more, an empty-net, shorthanded marker for the 6-4 win to split the weekend series. Both teams went two-for-three on the powerplay, while the Rockets outshot the Royals 37-22. The Royals resume their season with a pair of games on Tuesday (Oct. 12) and Wednesday (Oct. 13) at home against the Kamloops Blazers.

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