The biggest question facing the Victoria Royals this season was what would become of the crease situation in the post-Griffen Outhouse era, as he graduated from junior to currently playing pro in the ECHL with the Jacksonville Icemen.
Brock Gould began answering that question for the Royals over the past two games, coming within one minute and 22 seconds of recording back-to-back Western Hockey League shuouts.
After blanking the Swift Current Broncos 4-0 on Friday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, Gould backstopped the Royals to a 3-1 victory Sunday over the Vancouver Giants at the Langley Events Centre with Vancouver’s goal coming from Alex Kannok Leipert with just 1:22 remaining in the third period.
The six-foot-four Gould, who is making good use of his size, made 26 saves and Arizona Coyotes draft pick David Tendeck 21 for the Giants.
“[Gould] is playing very confidently,” said Royals head coach Dan Price.
Being projected a fourth-to-seventh-round selection by Central Scouting for the 2020 NHL draft might have something to do with that new found confidence by the 17-year-old sophomore.
The Royals traded in the off-season with the Portland Winterhawks for 20-year-old veteran goaltender Shane Farkas, who has twice been named a game star this season.
“As with every other position on our team, we have a culture of support and healthy competition for playing time,” said Price.
“We have a meritorious culture in which you earn your playing time. We are merit-based. We felt Brock Gould earned the net for Sunday.”
And perhaps for a few more games, too.
First-period goals by defenceman Mitchell Prowse, and Sean Gulka’s second power-play goal in as many games, spotted Victoria a 2-0 first period lead against the Giants. Defenceman Nolan Jones, from the point, alertly found an open Gulka in front of the net for the latter tally. Gulka assisted on Prowse’s goal for a two-point game and was named first star.
“[Gulka] works hard in practice and is always prepared,” said Price, of the lanky depth forward’s unlikely rise to scoring threat.
Tarun Fizer took a sharp lead pass from rookie import Keanu Derungs for his team-leading fifth goal of the season, into an empty net, to seal the deal for the Royals.
Both clubs are .500 with the Giants 7-7 and the Royals 4-4-1.
“Every game in the B.C. Division is going to be a dogfight,” said Price.
“There are no easy nights.”
The divisional rivalries continue Friday and Saturday at the Memorial Centre when the Royals host the Kamloops Blazers (8-4), who are indeed blazing with five consecutive wins.