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Royals blank Giants

Season-high sixth straight regulation loss for Vancouver as visiting Victoria skates away with 3-0 victory
James Malm and Brayden Watts can't corral a loose puck in front of Victoria Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse. Outhouse stopped all 25 shots in a 3-0 Victoria victory.

Gary Ahuja

Black Press

Griffen Outhouse had the Vancouver Giants offence in the dumps.

Easy jokes aside, there was not much happening when the Giants had the puck on their sticks.

Outhouse was only seriously tested a couple of times in earning his fourth shutout, a 3-0 victory for the visiting Victoria Royals on Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre in Western Hockey League action.

And the Royals might want to petition the league on playing more games on Tuesdays as the Victoria visitors improved to 9-0-0-0 on that day of the week.

The loss was a season-high sixth straight in regulation as the slumping team fell to 16-26-1-2 on the season. Victoria improved to 24-18-4-0.

Defensively, Vancouver didn’t give up many grade-A scoring opportunities but the Royals were able to capitalize once in each period while the Giants generated less than a handful of prime opportunities themselves.

Ryan Gagnon scored on a floater from the blue-line in the first, Tyler Soy and Ryan Kubic down and out to easily roof the puck from the side of the net in the second, and Matthew Phillips was gifted a power-play goal in the third as Kubic tried to clear the puck, which instead found Phillips who back-handed the puck home while laying on the ice.

“Too many guys spinning and turning,” said Vancouver coach Jason McKee, when asked to assess the team’s play in their own zone.

“What was disappointing was on the goals,  we had the puck on our sticks. We talked about it, we turned it over and the puck was in our net. Tough lessons to learn  but we just have to move forward.”

The first period was relatively competitive, with the shots 15-12 in the Royals favour.

But the final 40 minutes saw the Giants muster just 13 shots the rest of the way as Victoria did a great job of blocking or deflecting pucks before they even reached Outhouse.

McKee said facing a veteran squad like the Royals, the team knew it would have to work for its goals.

“We have talked about it a lot, we have got to get to the net, we have to get pucks to the net, and at times we did that and had a few chances,” he said.

“We are not going to be an up and down team, with the situation we are in, we have to score on our chances and be sound defensively.

“It is going to be tough to score goals when you only have a couple guys generating chances.”

The Giants moved out several of their veteran players at last week’s trade deadline but the team’s younger core has not risen to the challenge of their new roles.

“There are some guys that are getting better, no question, some guys who are making strides. They are going to be mistakes along the way, you have to be patient, you just keep learning every day, (watching) video,” McKee said,

“The hardest lessons are going to be in games sometimes, We are going to face a few moving forward I assume. I just think we have to recognize what is going to make us good: we have to defend hard and score on our chances that we get.”

Owen Hardy was one player who caught the coach’s attention in the loss, playing what McKee said was his best game.

“He played a role he is really good at. He just simplified his game, and went out and was first on forechecks and was hard to play against, a burr in their saddles and that is what we need,” McKee said.

The Giants will look to break back into the win column when they host the Kelowna Rockets at the LEC on Friday night. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.