After going 9-3 in December, the Victoria Royals remain winless in 2022 following a 5-3 loss to the Cougars in Prince George on Tuesday.
Penalties were an issue for the Royals and they had to go on the kill just minutes into the game, with Prince George scoring on the resulting power play. The cougars would add another a minute later with Riley Heidt feeding Koehn Ziemmer on a two-on-one, putting the home team up 2-0.
That same combo struck again for the Cougars early in the second period. Heidt drew several Royals defenders towards him before sliding it to Ziemmer, who was moving towards the net just above the goal line before getting the pass and going to his backhand to put it past Victoria netminder Campbell Arnold.
Victoria’s penalty troubles continued as Luke Rybinski was assessed a double-minor for high sticking seconds after Prince George’s third goal. The Cougars would go on to score twice on the four-minute powerplay.
Goals from Gannon Laroque and Anthony Wilson cut the Cougars’ lead and made it 5-3 going into the third.
Both sides took penalties in the third but were unable to score for most of the period.
Down by three with little time remaining, the comeback was out of reach but the Royals were still able to end the game with a silver lining. With seconds left, Luke Shipley was tripped at the blue line, but while still lying on the ice, he hooked the puck through the legs of a Cougar defender before spinning to his feet, grabbing the puck and shooting it past the goaltender.
After the slow start and penalties, Royals head coach Dan Price said his players turned the corner in the second half of the game.
“We got our feet going, created some power play opportunities and did a much better job controlling and possessing the puck,” Price said. “The guys really dug in. Obviously, we are not interested in moral victories but the momentum shift that the players created in the last 30 minutes of the game will be an important advantage heading into game two. A quick start tomorrow will be important, and I believe we’ll get that right off the bat.”
The Royals complete the doubleheader in Prince George on Wednesday, with puck drop at 7 p.m.
After the Royals had three games from earlier this month be put on hold due to players and staff being added to the COVID-19 protocol list, Friday is set to be the team’s first game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena in 2022.
Victoria sits four points behind Vancouver and six back of Prince George in the B.C. Division of the Western Hockey League.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.