Americans' penalty kill unit comes up short in loss to Royals

Annie Fowler, Herald staff writerNovember 29, 2013 

The Victoria Royals have not lost a game this season when scoring the first goal. Friday was no different.

The Royals scored three power-play goals against Tri-City’s normally stingy penalty kill in handing the Americans a 3-1 loss before a crowd of 4,270 at Toyota Center.

“It is extremely disappointing,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said of the loss. “It was a game we were in, a game we could have won. Games like this we have to win. We are at home and we have to win our home games.

“The special teams tonight, you can figure out how the game was won and lost. We have been pretty strong on the penalty kill thus far, but those three power play goals killed us.”

The Americans (14-12-1-2), missing veteran defensemen Mitch Topping and Wil Tomchuk, and forward Parker Bowles because of injuries, played with five regular defensemen in front of goalie Eric Comrie, who turned aside 26 shots.

“It was a frustrating game. It happens,” Comrie said. “I heard about the injuries when I was gone. It was unfortunate, but stuff happens and you have to deal with it. That’s not the way we need to deal with it right there. We have to move forward. We have to be better than we were tonight. We were good in stretches, but we’ve got to be better.”

Victoria has won five in a row and it’s less-than-stellar power play was a shining star Friday night.

“We limited their scoring opportunities and that was key for us,” said Royals assistant coach Enio Sacilotto. “And our specialty teams — at one point it was 3-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. That was the difference. And our goaltending was outstanding. They did have some good chances  late in the third, but our goalie (Patrik Polivka) came up big.”

The Royals (18-10-0-1), who are 14-0-0-0 when scoring first, had a 1-0 lead after the first period, and extended their lead to 2-0 with a power-play goal by Austin Carroll at 11:28.

Victoria finished its scoring at 4:26 of the third as Logan Nelson’s slap shot from the point was redirected into the net by Axel Blomqvist — his first goal with the Royals since his trade from Lethbridge three games ago.

The Americans made a push in the third, pulling Comrie for an extra attacker, and got a late power-play goal from Connor Rankin at 18:57.

Comrie remained out of the net after the ensuing face-off, but The Americans couldn’t get any closer.

“We are at a stage where we can’t look for any extra passes,” Hiller said. “We have to shoot and get to the net and score within that 5-foot perimeter. There aren’t a lot of pretty plays happening out there.”

In a rather disorganized first period, the Royals took a 1-0 lead at 10:06 with a power-play goal by Ben Walker, who beat Comrie up high from the bottom of the left circle.

The Americans had just two quality shifts in the period, and despite getting the puck on net, they couldn’t get anything past Polivaka.

“Anytime you can get a win in here, you have to feel pretty fortunate,” Sacilotto said. “This is one of the toughest buildings to play in in the league. When we can get a point out of here, we are happy with that.”

Notes Royals head coach Dave Lowry missed Friday’s game in to attend his daughter Sarah’s graduation from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) with a master’s degree in kinesiology. Assistant coach Enio Sacilotto ran the bench. Lowry will rejoin the team today in Seattle. ... Victoria signed Hermiston native Keith Anderson to a WHL standard player agreement. Anderson, a forward, plays in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League for Compete Hockey Academy. He leads his team in scoring with 23 points (13g-10a) in 13 games.

ROYALS 3, AMERICANS 1

Victoria 1 1 1 — 3
Tri-City 0 0 1 — 1

First — 1, Vic, B.Walker (Fushimi, Magee), 10:06 (pp). Penalties — McCue, TC (delay of game), 9:17; Soy, Vic (hooking), 18:50.
Second — 2, Vic, Carroll 13 (Soy, Nelson), 11:28 (pp). Penalties — Kanzig, Vic (slashing), 8:17; Messier, TC (hooking), 10:42.
Third —3, Vic, Blomqvist 9 (Nelson, Hodges), 4:26 (pp). 4, TC, Rankin 10 (Vickerman, T.Comrie), 18:57 (pp). Penalties — Hamonic, TC (hooking), 3:22; Hodges, Vic (roughing), 8:55; Wotherspoon, TC (cross-checking), 8:55; Fushimi, Vic (hooking), 10:19; Wotherspoon, TC (interference), 13:45; Hodges, Vic (roughing), 17:51; Schacher, Vic (roughing), 19:53; Rankin, TC (roughing), 19:53.
Shots — Vic 9-10-10 — 29. TC 11-11-12 — 34. Power plays — Vic 3-4. TC 1-4. Goalies — Vic, Polivak 13-8-0-0 (34 shots-33 saves). TC, Comrie 11-10-0-2 (29-26). Referees — Ryan Benbow and Sean Raphael. A — 4,270.

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