By Marlon Martens

The Victoria Royals (30-16-0-2, 62pts) settled for a split against the #1 team in the CHL, Kelowna Rockets (37-6-0-2, 76pts) suffering a 5-3 loss Saturday night after a 3-1 win Friday.

Victoria also settled for a split the previous weekend against the #7 team in the CHL, the Portland Winterhawks.

“What we’ve done is we’ve proven to ourselves that we can play with the top teams in the league, now we have to make sure that we do it every night.” – Head Coach Dave Lowry

Saturday, Rockets forward Myles Bell scored twice in the first erasing a 1-0 deficit, as Kelowna held period leads of 3-1 and 4-2.

“We have to learn how to close out, you win Friday - we have to find a way to win the next night. That’s part of the process…” said Lowry on settling for the split.

After their sixth meeting of the season Victoria now has a record of 3-2-0-1 against the top team in the league, and will meet next February 8th in Kelowna.

The Royals had a great start with a 5-1 shot advantage and led 1-0 on Ben Walker’s 19th of the year less than 2 minutes in. Bell scored twice in 3:17, and Mitchell Wheaton just :28 seconds after that both during 4 on 4 hockey.

“We had a 4 on 4, make a couple mistakes and you’re pulling the puck out of the net. We made a couple mental mistakes and when you’re playing the top team in the country you can’t do that…” said Lowry.

Up 3-1 in the second, Rockets Rourke Chartier (1g 1a) sniped just 98 seconds in, ending Patrik Polivka’s night. Polivka allowed 4 goals on 12 shots. Axel Blomqvist cut the lead in half to 4-2 before the second was out.

Brandon Magee’s shorthanded breakaway goal in the third brought Victoria to within one, but Marek Tvrdon first of the season in his second game with Kelowna, added some insurance making it 5-3.

"He had some chances earlier in the game and he was getting, you could sense, a little bit frustrated," Huska said of Tvrdon, who cut across the middle and let go a harmless-looking shot that snuck between the arm and body of back-up goalie Coleman Vollrath. "His goal was one that I would assume their goaltender would've maybe wanted back, but it was a big goal for us and hopefully the start of many more for him."

Jordan Cooke earned his 27th win with 27 saves, and Coleman Vollrath stopped 20 of 21 in relief.

Neither team could score on the power play, the Royals went 0 for 4, while the Rockets were 0 for 5.

Ben Walker had a goal and assist as did Chartier for Kelowna. Madison Bowey had two helpers for the Rockets who've played 16 of their last 18 on the road, earning their 22nd win away from Prospera Place.

The Royals suffer just their 10th home loss of the season (16-10-0-1) in front of 5,871 on Defense Team Appreciation Night.

"We didn't get the first one (on Friday night), but I thought after a slower start (on Saturday), we picked things up a little bit and we were able to hang on at the end," Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said. "Some guys responded and had a much better game tonight. Jordon Cooke was better tonight in net for us, and our penalty kill did a good job of limiting their chances against."