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WHL Royals look to gain ground in Victoria against powerful Portland squad

Weekend losses, combined with 2 Spokane wins, leave Royals three points out of playoff spot
Victoria Royals forward Tarun Fizer, left, is checked by the Rockets’ Colton Dach during Western Hockey League action in Kelowna on March 4. The Royals lost 5-4 in overtime. (Photo courtesy of the Victoria Royals)

The Victoria Royals will try to improve on a Western Hockey League weekend where the team picked up just one point, following one-goal road losses against Kelowna and Kamloops.

The Royals return to Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena on Tuesday (March 8) and Wednesday for back-to-back games against the powerful Portland Winterhawks. As of Monday, Victoria (15-32-5-1) sat three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference following a pair of weekend wins by Spokane over Prince George.

Strong goaltending on Saturday by Victoria’s Tyler Palmer, who made 41 stops, kept the Royals in the game, but a lack of offence led to a 2-1 loss in Kamloops.

The Blazers, who kept the Royals off the board for 53 minutes before Riley Gannon scored his 15th goal of the season, moved into a tie for the conference lead with the win.

On Friday in Kelowna, Victoria lost 5-4 in overtime, the victims of a successful Rockets comeback.

With the game tied 1-1 late in the first period, the Royals’ Tanner Scott picked up the puck in his own zone and sped around Kelowna defenders before beating the Rockets goaltender Talyn Boyko to complete the end-to-end rush.

After both teams added a goal in the second, Victoria made it 4-2 early in the third when Wyatt Wilson finished a toe-drag past a Rockets player and sent a snapshot past Boyko. Kelowna scored twice in the last 10 minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime, where Gabriel Szturc would win it for the home team.

Game time for both Victoria-Portland games is 7:05 p.m.

READ: Victoria Royals rookie earns WHL’s goalie of the week honours

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