VICTORIA, B.C. – Their trip to the island was anything but paradise, but the Spokane Chiefs aren’t ready to give up the ship.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Chiefs took the Victoria Royals to overtime and came away empty-handed.
Logan Nelson did the damage Sunday night, scoring off a rebound 2 minutes and 18 seconds into overtime to give the Royals a 4-3 win at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Hockey League first-round series. Travis Brown had the overtime winner Saturday night in a 2-1 Royals decision.
“At the end of the day, I think we competed hard,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “We did everything we could to win these two games and came up short. There’s no fault in that. We just have to put the two games behind us and look forward to the next game at home.”
The series shifts to the Arena for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Thursday nights. If Game 5 is necessary, the teams will board ferries for another Saturday night game on Vancouver Island.
“Every game is a lot of back and forth, a game of inches, right?” said Chiefs defenseman Jason Fram, who had two assists. “We know that if we can come that close, we have to give it that much more to get the win.”
“At the end, they’ve held serve,” Nachbaur said. “Now we have to go home and hold serve.”
The Chiefs fought back from a 3-1 second-period deficit. Saturday’s extra period went into the ninth minute, but Nelson made Sunday’s overtime brief, rebounding Ryan Gagnon’s shot to beat Chiefs goalie Eric Williams, who was otherwise outstanding with 41 saves.
“ ‘Gags’ did a good job getting the puck on net and then I looked down at my feet and the puck was right there,” Nelson said.
The game had an explosive start, as Spokane’s Dominic Zwerger scored at 47 seconds and the Royals’ Logan Fisher answered 40 seconds later on a wide-angled shot from the left side that found a small opening between Williams and the net. Zwerger’s unassisted goal came after he pounced on a poor Royals pass.
“I’m glad we got that second one (Fisher’s goal) that quickly, or it would have been a different hockey game,” Royals coach Dave Lowry said.
Ben Walker set up Victoria’s second goal, zipping past Spokane’s defense and feeding Brandon Magee at 9:31 of the first.
Tyler Soy made it 3-1 with a rebound goal at 3:47 of the second, but Liam Stewart responded for the Chiefs 46 seconds later. Victoria fans booed Stewart, who ran into goalie Patrik Polivka moments before the score.
Spokane tied the game with 10:53 left on Reid Gow’s slap shot on a power play. Until then, the Chiefs had been 0 for 9 with a man advantage in the series.
“As soon as I passed it back to ‘Gowsey,’ I saw him wind up and shoot and I saw it the whole way,” Fram said. “It was a good shot with traffic in front.”
Both teams had late chances in regulation.
“ ‘Profty’ (Carter Proft) hit the post with 2 minutes left in the game and it could have been over right there,” Nachbaur said. “Like I said, it’s a fine line between winning and losing.”
Royals 4, Chiefs 3 (OT)
First Period—1, Spokane, Zwerger 1 0:47. 2, Victoria, Fisher 1 (Fushimi, Cote), 1:27. 3, Victoria, Magee 1 (Walker, Cote), 9:31. Second Period—4, Victoria, Soy 1 (Brown, Palmer), 3:47. 5, Spokane, Stewart 1 (Fram), 4:33. Third Period—6, Spokane, Gow 1 (Fram, Aviani), 9:07 (PP). Overtime—7, Victoria, Nelson 1 (Gagnon), 2:18. Shots on Goal—Spokane 10-10-10-1—31. Victoria 15-12-15-3—45. Power Play Opportunities—Spokane 1 of 5; Victoria 0 of 5. Goalies—Spokane, Williams 0-0-2-0 (45 shots-41 saves). Victoria, Polivka 2-0-0-0 (31 shots-28 saves). A—4,629.