The Victoria Royals took one win away from a weekend series against the B.C.-best Kamloops Blazers.
The Saturday night 3-2 victory means the Royals stay locked in points with the Kelowna Rockets as the two teams vie for the final playoff spot in the west.
Jake Poole netted the game-winner as Victoria went ahead early on Saturday and kept a lead for the rest of the game despite Kamloops’ attempts to creep back.
That win came after a 7-4 loss for the Royals at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Jan. 27. The Blazers jumping to an early 3-0 lead proved to be the difference as the two teams matched each other in goals during the final two periods.
Head coach Dan Price called the Saturday response a gut-check win for Victoria after Friday’s result.
“I thought our (defence) were really confrontational, they shrunk the offensive zone, they denied lines and it allowed us to transition and took away a lot of time and space Kamloops was trying to use,” he said postgame. “They locked it down at the end when they needed to.”
The close game could’ve gone differently if not for a pivotal save by Victoria’s goaltender. Netminder Braden Holt stopped 35 shots on the night, but none were finer than when the Montana product stretched across the open net with only his paddle to rob a sure goal off the stick of Kamloops’ Fraser Minten.
“I woke up ready to go and wanted this one so bad,” Holt said postgame. “We struggled last night, up and down the lineup and coach called on us to be better and we each called on each other. We looked in the mirror there and everyone played their role tonight and that’s what it takes.”
Victoria (14-28-4-1) will stay home to welcome the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday (Jan. 31). Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m.
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