The Victoria Royals have a perfect opportunity to avenge a recent loss in Portland, when they host the Winter Hawks for a pair of games this coming weekend at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
The Royals, who dropped an 8-5 decision to Portland on Feb. 7, take on the number 2 team in the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division on Friday and Saturday, starting at 7:05 p.m.
The teams have almost identical records, with the Royals sitting at 35-21-3-2 (75 points) one point back of B.C. Division leading Kelowna, and the Hawks (35-19-1-3, 74 pts.) emerging from this past weekend seven points behind front-running Everett.
The Royals have a win, a regulation loss and an overtime defeat in their current five-game homestand. The most recent result was a thrilling 4-3 win over Vancouver on Saturday night.
A wild finish against the Giants saw the Royals’ Dino Kambeitz notch the winning goal with 11 seconds to play, snapping a 3-3 tie. Victoria blueliner Ralph Jarratt set up the big winger for his second goal of the game, just 26 seconds after Ty Ronning tied it up for the Giants with his 53rd goal of the season.
Despite outshooting the Giants 19-3 in the first period, the Royals were held off the scoresheet by Vancouver goalie Trent Miner, who stopped Matthew Phillips early on a penalty shot. It was Ronning who opened scoring 1:41 into the second on a Giants power play.
The Royals tied things up midway through the frame when Phillips set up Kambeitz for his 10th of the season. They grabbed their first lead 1:59 into the third when Phillips dug a puck out behind the net and fed Tyler Soy for a one-timer at the edge of the crease.
Vancouver’s Brayden Watts beat goalie Griffen Outhouse low to the blocker side to make it 2-2 at the 13:15 mark, but Soy came to the rescue again less than three minutes later, fishing out a loose puck to the side of Miner and wristing it in for his 31st of the season to make it 3-2.
Defenceman Jared Freaderich helped Outhouse avoid a sure goal in the final minute by sweeping the puck out of the crease. But seconds later an elusive Ronning got behind the Royals defence and buried a cross-ice pass from James Malm, and the game looked headed for overtime.
But in the dying seconds, Jarratt sent a stretch pass from in front of his own net to Kambeitz at the far blueline, where he fought off defenceman Kaleb Bulych and beat Miner with a low shot.
With a win in the final regular season game between the B.C. Division rivals, the Royals won the season series 7-3, with two wins coming in shootouts.
Last goal wins Friday as well, different result
After erasing a 3-1 deficit with a late second-period goal from Kade Jensen and an early third-period marker from Lane Zablocki, the Royals gave up the winner in a 4-3 loss to Red Deer with 7:19 to play in Friday’s contest. Rebels winger Chris Douglas’s deflection of a Colin Paradis point shot found its way through the pads of Royals goalie Dean McNabb.
Phillips opened the scoring from Dante Hannoun 14:14 into the first period, but the Rebels put the home team behind the eight ball by scoring the next three goals.
Jensen led the Royals with a goal and an assist, while Riley Lamb stopped 33 of 36 shots for Red Deer.