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Royals come from behind to down Cougars

Victoria Royals Matthew Phillips scored twice, including the game-winner late in the third period on the power-play, in the Royals 4-3 come from behind win over the Prince George Cougars Sunday afternoon.

Phillips scored his second of the game on the man-advantage with less than seven-minutes left in the third, as the Royals came back from trailing 3-2 after two periods, to sweep the weekend doubleheader. They beat Prince George 4-3 in overtime on Friday.

Tarun Fizer also scored for Victoria and Griffen Outhouse stopped 33 of 36 shots for his 35th win. Special teams, in particular the Royals’ power-play, was the x-factor Sunday, as they scored twice on their only two power-plays.

Aaron Boyd, Joel Lakusta and Jackson Leppard scored for the Cougars, and Tavin Grant stopped 30 of 34 shots, as the Prince George’s winless streak grew to five games.

The Cougars opened the scoring just 15-seconds into the game after Boyd pounced on a rebound. After an icing call against Victoria, Cam MacPhee had his point-shot stopped, but the puck bounced off of Outhouse and trickled across the crease before Boyd tapped it in for his 13th.

The Royals didn’t take long to reply, as it was 16-year-old rookie Tarun Fizer equalizing two and a half minutes in. Kade Oliver fed Fizer in the middle of the zone, where he spun and fired a wrist-shot over Grant’s shoulder at 2:36.

Victoria went ahead for the first time, 14-minutes into the first period, as Matt Phillips scored his first of two power-play goals on the afternoon. Phillips made it 2-1 after he tapped in a pass from Tanner Kaspick at the side of the goal. The Royals worked the puck around, with Kaspick firing a hard pass from the slot down to Phillips at the side of the net for the tap-in at 13:53.

The Cougars tied it 2-2 before the period was out, as Joel Lakusta cleaned up a rebound in front. Brogan O’Brien cut into the right-wing circle, but his shot was stopped, but it kicked over to Lakusta, who was trailing the play, and he fired the rebound past Outhouse at 17:14; Lakusta’s ninth and fourth against the Royals.

Jackson Leppard scored the lone goal in the second period, on a late Cougars’ power-play. With the Royals down a skater, it was the Cougars again capitalizing on another rebound. Brogan O’Brien fired the puck from the right-wing that went off of the goalie’s pad and right over to Leppard, who spun around to his forehand and put the puck upstairs with 58-seconds left; Leppard picking up his 15th.

Victoria came back in the third period, as Igor Martynov tied it 3-3 eight-minutes in. Martynov took the puck down the left-wing, then around the net, before he tucked in his wraparound attempt off the far-post and past Grant’s pad at 8:09.

The Royals then retook the lead five-minutes later and again on the power-play. Tavin Grant made a terrific cross-ice save on Tyler Soy but the puck squirted free and it was flipped in by Phillips for his second of the game at 13:08. Grant made an eye-popping pad save on Soy after lunging to his left, but the rebound came right to Phillips who potted his team-best 47th.

Prince George did pull their goalie late and gave the Royals a scare, as Josh Maser hit the base of the post during the six-on-five but that’s as close as the Cougars would get.

FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Royals

Shots: 36-34 Cougars

Power-Plays: Cougars 1-3 Royals 2-2

Three Stars: 1) Matthew Phillips 2) Brogan O’Brien 3) Tanner Kaspick

Prince George (23-37-5-4) finishes the eight-game season series against Victoria with a 3-3-2-0 record. The Cougars road record slips to 10-19-2-3 in the loss and Sunday was the first regulation loss for the Cougars when Joel Lakusta scores; they were previously 6-0-0-1.

The Cougars four-game road trip continues Wednesday against the Kelowna Rockets; face-off is 7:05 pm. Fans can listen to the game on 94-3 The GOAT, or they can watch online, via WHL Live.

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