Captains are chosen to lead and Matthew Phillips did just that for the Victoria Royals on Wednesday night in Portland, scoring once and setting up two other goals to lead the visitors to a 4-2 Western Hockey League victory over the Winterhawks.
The Royals (26-16-3-1) never trailed in the game, but Portland pulled even at 2-2 at 7:21 of the third period with a power play goal from Cody Glass, selected sixth overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft by Las Vegas.
But a pair of Royals newcomers combined to give Victoria the ultimate winning tally less than four minutes later. Lane Zablocki earned his first point with the team, setting up Tanner Kaspick for his 14th goal of the season and second with Victoria.
Phillips bagged his 31st of the season, from Matthew Smith and Dante Hannoun, to give his team some breathing room just 48 seconds later, and goalie Griffen Outhouse shut the door on the Hawks the rest of the way. Outhouse finished with 28 stops on the night to pick up his 24th win of the season.
The Royals opened scoring in the first while playing shorthanded, as Phillips fed speedy Tyler Soy for his 20th goal 8:28 into the period. Portland’s Skyler McKenzie replied just 41 seconds later on the same power play.
Smith, with his third of the campaign, finished off a play from Phillips and Jared Freadrich to restore the lead at the 15:06 mark of the second period.
The Royals, who have won three in a row, continue their road stretch with key games Friday in Langley against the Vancouver Giants and Saturday in Kelowna. The Royals and Giants are tied for second in the B.C. Division with 56 points, three back of Kelowna.