Calgary Hitmen import players Victor Rask and Pavlo Padakin were not on the ice for Thursday night’s tilt against the Victoria Royals.
But Alex Gogolev sure was.
The Russian import – who was traded to from the Hitmen to the Royals to start the season, made available because of Rask and Padakin – scored the winning goal and added an empty netter to lead the Royals to a 3-1 victory at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Padakin was a scratch while Rask was absent – he’s hoping to stick with the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes who own his draft rights.
Gogolev, 20, didn’t come cheap in that trade, however, as the Royals gave up promising 18-year-old Zane Jones. And it was a fired-up Jones who scored the first goal of the game Thursday night, an unassisted breakaway goal to give the Hitmen a 1-0 lead in the second period (he now has five goals and five assists in 10 games this year).
“We knew Jones was going to come in and play hard but I like the way our guys battled back and played hard,” said Royals coach Dave Lowry, who trumped his former team.
Lowry coached with the Hitmen from 2005 to 2009.
“That’s Calgary’s second regulation loss. We challenged our group tonight to have a good effort against one of the top teams in the league. This was an important win for us.”
The Royals showed extreme discipline Thursday and weren’t hit for a minor penalty all night. The only Royal to sit in the box was Tim Traber, for exchanging punches with Jaynen Rissling in the first period.
Gogolev’s linemates, Ben Walker and Brandon Magee, were particularly strong, and played most of their shifts in the Hitmen’s zone. On another shift, Walker got the puck to Logan Nelson, whose shot was deflected by Steven Hodges for the Royals first goal. Magee set up Gogolev for a beautiful tap-in for the second goal, and Walker carried the puck to the door step of the Hitmen’s empty net at the end of the game before Gogolev tapped it in.
It was Hodges first game back after missing eight with a leg injury. The Florida Panthers draft pick now has three goals in the three games he’s managed to play.
“Personally, I expected to play on the fourth line until I got back up to speed but I felt good, didn’t have much rest, and after 10 minutes it started to go well,” Hodges said.
Hodges suffered a scare when he lost his footing and slammed into the end wall, snapping his stick beneath him in the process. “I was worried but it turned out alright.”
Thursday was the Royals’ only game of the week. Next is Tuesday (Oct. 23) when the Brandon Wheat Kings visit.