Ams drop crucial game to Royals, 5-3

February 8, 2013 

When points are precious and few, the team that puts forth the effort is going to earn them.

Brandon Magee had two second-period goals, and Ben Walker added a goal and two assists to lead the Victoria Royals to a 5-3 victory Friday over the Tri-City Americans before a crowd of 4,711 at Toyota Center.

The Royals (31-19-1-3) picked up two valuable points with the win and moved into fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 66 points, one point ahead of the Americans (31-20-1-2).

“This is the first time we have been in the top four spot — here or in Chilliwack,” Magee said. “When you come in one point behind the team you are playing, there is added incentive. It had a playoff atmosphere.”

Victoria coach Dave Lowry said the turning point for his club was getting out of the first period only giving up one goal as the Americans had three power plays.

“We dodged a bullet there in the first,” Lowry said. “That allowed us to get momentum in the second. Patrik (Polivka) was outstanding. That’s why we are in this position.”

The Americans, whose home woes continued, outshot the Royals 35-26, including 10-3 in the first period, but their power play failed to connect (1-for-6) and penalties were costly.

“We didn’t score. We had a lot of good chances,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. “We took some dumb penalties and that changed the momentum of the game. There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We play at Spokane (today).”

Victoria held a 3-2 lead with 9:51 to play in the game, and with both teams knowing that Spokane lost to Kootenay, the Royals were the ones to take the reins and reel in the two points.

“We knew how important this game was,” Tri-City forward Jesse Mychan said. “We needed more from some guys. We made some critical mistakes that cost us, and their goalie was really good. He was a wall.”

Jordan Fransoo and Walker scored power-play goals to give the Royals a 5-2 advantage with less than 5 minutes left in the game.

The Americans pulled goalie Luke Lee-Knight the last 2:26 of the game, and Justin Feser scored his second of the night to make it 5-3, but they got no closer.

“Feser’s line was good. They had a lot of chances,” Hiller said. “We just didn’t get enough from other people.”

Victoria opened the scoring at 1:22 of the first on the man advantage as Steven Hodges turned a Tri-City turnover into an easy goal.

The Americans, after three failed power plays in the first 10 minutes of the game, scored even strength at 13:17.

Polivka stopped a shot by Connor Rankin, but the rebound ended up at the top of the crease, where Mychan poked it in the net to even things up at 1-1.

“Victoria weathered the storm, and their goalie gave them a chance,” Hiller said. “They got better as the game wore on.”

The Americans used a strong forecheck to control the puck early in the second period, with the end result a Feser goal and a 2-1 lead at 6:58.

The Royals, who were outshot 25-16 through two periods, made good use of their opportunities as Magee scored twice, with the second goal coming with 48 seconds remaining to take a 3-2 lead.

Notes: With two goals, Feser has 142 for his career, moving him past Adam Hughesman (140) into third place on the team’s all-time goals scored list. ... Zach Yuen, with an assist on Feser’s goal, scored his 100th WHL point. ... Lowry played three-plus seasons with former Americans Stu Barnes and Bill Lindsay with the Florida Panthers (1993-97).

w Annie Fowler: 582-1574;; twitter: @tchicequeen

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