Royals edge Giants for fourth win in last five games

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VICTORIA -- The Victoria Royals have points in five straight games after securing a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants.

Royals' goaltender Shane Farkas had 33 saves and Keanu Derungs scored the game-winner as Victoria earned their fourth win in their last five outings. The Royals now sits two points up on the Giants for third place in the WHL's B.C. division, and are now just four points behind first place Kamloops. 

"To be honest, from the T.V. timeout in the first until the end of the second period, I didn't think we were ourselves," said Royals' coach Dan Price. "I feel like we had more control of the game than we showed in those middle fourty minutes or so."

The Royals opened the scoring just twenty seconds into the opening frame, as forward Brandon Cutler would circle around the Giants net before putting a perfect pass on the stick of Graeme Bryks. Bryks -- who spent last season with the Seattle Thunderbirds -- would make no mistake to register his second of the season.

Throughout the first period of play the Royals would execute a smart, simple defensive game, negating several Giants opportunities by defending as a five man unit. This would also translate to Victoria's penalty kill, as they would force Vancouver's powerplay to go 0/6 on the night. Shane Farkas saw the majority of the shots he faced in the first period, including a significant shoulder save with 5:47 remaining in the opening frame. 

"Shane Farkas really led the charge," said the Royals' bench boss. "He was big, fighting through traffic, he dealt with rebounds well and got us whistles."

Vancouver would enter the second period with a lot more urgency in their game, which put Victoria on their heels early. Despite ending the first period up by one while also controlling the shot clock, the Royals would see their lead in shots evaporate as the Giants would begin to get better looks on the rush.

The game would start to see some emotion near the five minute mark of the second, as both teams would begin to lay the body at both ends of the rink. 

Will Warm -- who entered the night's action as the Royals' acting captain in the absence of Philip Shultz -- had one of his more physical games of the season. Warm had a target on Vancouver's star defenceman Bowen Byram all night long, and didn't pass up a single opportunity to put a hit on the first round pick of the Colorado Avalanche.

"You gotta play their D with tight gap control," said Coach Price. "That's true of any defenceman in the league, but especially players like him."

Graeme Bryks had a great opportunity to score his second of the game late in the period, but would be unable to settle the puck right in front of Giants' goalie David Tendeck. Vancouver forward Justin Sourdif would come within inches of tying the game late in the period, but would draw iron. The two teams would then head to the dressing room with the Royals still ahead 1-0 on Bryks first period marker. 

The final frame would pick up where it left off in the second, as both teams would continue to look for a physical edge. Tempers would flare when Will Warm would lay his third hit of the game on Bowen Byram, prompting Giants' captain Alex Kannok Leipert to have words with the former WHL humanitarian of the year. Warm would continue to be the centre of attention midway through the third period, barely missing Zack Ostapchuk with a huge hit and ending up with a kneeing penalty.

The Royals found the eventual game winner at 11:13 of the third period, as Keanu Derungs cashed in on a Gary Haden rebound for his seventh of the year. Victoria wouldn't be done there however, as just 43 seconds later defenceman Nolan Jones would score his first goal of the season to put the Royals up by three.

Shane Farkas would have his shutout bit denied late in the game, as Giants' rookie forward Cole Shepard would break the goose egg for Vancouver. The Royals would then go on to a 3-1 victory in front of 3452 at the Save On Memorial Centre, and now haven't dropped a game in regulation since November 20th against Kelowna.

Next up for the Royals will be back-to-back home games against Seattle starting on Friday night.

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