Victoria Royals Keanu Derungs celebrating his goal to open the scoring at 1:12 of the second period. (Christopher Kelsall/Special to Victoria News)

Victoria Royals Keanu Derungs celebrating his goal to open the scoring at 1:12 of the second period. (Christopher Kelsall/Special to Victoria News)

Prince George Cougars hammer the Victoria Royals 5-1

Royals fall after injecting inexperienced youth into the depleted line-up

Christopher Kelsall/Special to Victoria News

British Columbians are looking forward to attending full-capacity indoor events starting on Monday as per Dr. Bonnie Henry’s announcement. Friday, the Victoria Royals were looking for their second win in eight games. Both will have to wait.

The Royals and the Prince George Cougars renewed acquaintances at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday. It was the third game of six in a row and 14 in total between the BC Division rivals.

The Royals lost the first two games at the CN Centre in Prince George last Saturday and Sunday by scores of 3-1 and 4-2, respectively. Both losses were one-goal games until the Cougars took advantage of the empty net.

Friday, they lost 5-1.

They hardly mustered a shot during the first man advantage assessed at 3:13 of the opening frame to Blake Eastman for hooking.

The Royals again went on the powerplay, this time a double minor was assessed to Ryker Singer for high sticking at 14:52. Another penalty to the Cougars was called at 15:26 to Ethan Sampson for tripping. Outshot 4-12 to that point, the Royals only mustered three shots during the one-minute and 36-second stretch when they had the two-man advantage.

The Royals were fortunate to leave the opening frame tied at zero.

“We need to do a better job of using space. They were doing a really good job with shot blocking and I think we were creeping too much into the shot blocks. We are not doing a good enough of using space in the offensive zone. So, we will have to correct that,” said head coach Dan Price.

The Royals opened the scoring at 1:12 of the second period when Keanu Derungs scored a shorthanded marker on a long slap shot from just inside the blue line. It was the 19-year-old Kolton, Switzerland native’s second goal of the season.

Sporting a cut lip after the game from the high sticking call in the first period, a not too pleased Derungs said dryly, “Yeah, I just entered the zone, found the puck coming towards me and let go a hard shot.”

The Cougars exploded for five unanswered goals during the middle frame. First Singer scored at 7:57, then during a three-minute and 19-second span, Cougars John Hooker, Koehn Ziemmer, Craig Armstrong and Caden Brown each scored. It was Hooker’s fifth and Armstrong’s fourth of the season.

Singer who hails from Paradise Hills, Saskatchewan is just 16 years old. So is Riley Heidt, who leads the team in points with nine entering the game. He added a second period assist on the Hooker goal.

After two periods the Royals were outshot 31-13 and a total of 42-20 for the game. They went 0/5 on the man advantage.

The 2,377 fans in attendance tried to motivate the Royals with multiple waves and singing Sweet Caroline but to no avail. Even the return of Marty the Marmot rousing the crowd couldn’t change the momentum.

Price pulled goaltender Tyler Palmer at 4:55 of the second in favour of rookie Logan Cunningham who they had signed to a standard player agreement on September 24. Cunningham is with the Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 Prep of the CSSHL.

Palmer was put back into the net to start the third period after Cunningham let two quick ones in, however, did settle down before the period ended.

“It was a tough situation for him for his first time in the league, but we needed a spark,” said Price.

The teams meet again Saturday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, then return to Prince George for two more games.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 PM Saturday.

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