Royals face final road tests of season against Blazers and Cougars

Victoria will play Kamloops and Prince George on back-to-back nights.

With only four games remaining in their 2021-2022 regular season, the Victoria Royals find themselves in the throes of a fierce battle to determine the final playoff spots in the WHL’s Western Conference.

The team currently sits in a tie for the eighth and final spot with the Vancouver Giants, owning a 22-36-5-1 record with 50 points on the season.

Despite being shut out in back-to-back contests, the Royals have enjoyed some success over the past few weeks, posting a 6-4-0-0 record in their last 10, which included a five game win streak.

With their season set up for a dramatic ending, this weekend is almost certain to play a large part in the team’s final fate.

The first challenge the team will need to overcome is the continued absence of Tarun Fizer, who will remain under suspension for their next two contests. The 20-year-old forward has been the spark plug for this lineup all season, and his absence was a noticeable part of the team’s 5-0 loss to the Kelowna Rockets last weekend.

The Royals will be forced to look down the bench for other options in two key road matchups against the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars this weekend.

Leading scorer Bailey Peach is always one to watch–totalling 74 points (34 goals, 40 assist)on the year–as is Abbotsford, BC product Brayden Schuurman, who has counted 52 points (28 goals, 24 assists) and posted five points over his last five contests.

However, winning will also require contributions from some of the Royals depth forwards. Look for Nanaimo product Riley Gannon to make his presence felt. He currently ranks third on the team with 21 goals on the season, and could provide a much needed scoring option in Fizer’s absence.

17-year-old forward Tanner Scott should also provide some important minutes for Victoria this weekend. The Sherwood Park, AB native has been one of the team’s top playmakers over the past month, recording seven assists in his last five contests.

The next obstacle the Royals will need to overcome will be shutting down a pair of extremely potent offences in Kamloops and Prince George.

The team will lean on the talents of goaltender Tyler Palmer in order to get the job done. The 17-year-old rookie net-minder has posted a 15-20-3-0 record with a 3.50 goals against average (GAA) and a .910 save percentage (SV%) over 41 appearances this season.

Blazers forward Logan Stankoven presents the biggest challenge of any player the team will face this weekend. The Dallas Stars product has scored 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) over his current 10 game point streak and ranks third among all WHL scorers with 96 total points (42 goals, 56 assists) this season. He has counted 17 (seven goals, 10 assists) in 11 games against the Royals this year.

Kamloops–who sit second in the West with a 46-16-2-0 record with 94 points–also feature the talented Luke Toporowski, who has posted 63 points (35 goals, 28 assists) of his own in 2021-2022.

Backstopping the Blazers is Victoria BC’s Dylan Garand, who ranks first of all WHL goaltenders in wins with 32, and second with a .928 SV% and a 2.06 GAA. His total record stands at 32-8-0-0 on the year, and he remains undefeated over the Royals in 2021-2022.

Victoria’s Saturday opponent, the Prince George Cougars, sit only a single point out of the playoffs with a 22-38-4-1 record (49 points), having won just two of their last 10 games.

While the Royals have won four of their last six matchups, the Cougars still own a 9-4-0-0 record over Victoria this year.

Rookie forward Koehn Ziemmer has been a huge part of the success enjoyed by Prince George this year, posting 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) on the season, with 19 of those (11 goals, eight assists) coming against Victoria.

Saskatoon, SK product and fellow rookie Riley Heidt has been a near mirror image of his teammate this season, scoring 56 points of his own on 20 goals and 36 assists, counting 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 13 contests against the Royals.

Shutting down both forwards will be a key factor in determining the final result on Saturday.

Winnipeg, MB’s Brennan has been the go-to net-minder for the Cougars this season, posting a 11-25-1-1 record, .899 SV% and a 3.58 GAA in 39 starts this season. However the team may choose to rest Brennan, and in that case the start would fall on Coldale, AB product Ty Young, who has made 20 appearances on the year, earning a record of 4-8-3-0 while recording a .892 SV% and a 3.77 GAA.

Victoria will begin their weekend road trip against the Blazers at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops on Friday night, before taking the road north for a game against the Cougars at the CN Centre in Prince George on Saturday. It will be the final time the Royals meet both teams this year.

Puck drop for both games is set for 7:00pm.

The Royals next set of home games will be Apr. 15 and 16 against the Spokane Chiefs. Friday’s contest will be a Superhero Salute where the Royals will recognize local heroes and frontline workers.

The game on the 16th will be an opportunity for fans to celebrate Marty’s Belated Birthday and Senior Night where we honour our 20-year-old players.

For tickets to upcoming Royals home games, visit the Victoria Royals ticketing page or call the Select Your Ticket box office at 250-220-7777. Visit the Royals promo page for all special ticket offers.

Follow the Royals on InstagramTwitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok and visit our website to find out more about ticket sales and the latest news on the team. To get all your Royals news in one place, download the new Royals app available on both Apple and Google stores.

About the Victoria Royals

The Victoria Royals are a Canadian major junior ice hockey team in the Western Hockey League (WHL) owned and operated by GSL Group. The Royals play all their home games at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and have entered their 11th season of their existence.

About Save-On Foods Memorial Centre

Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (SOFMC) is designed, constructed, developed and operated by GSL Group. SOFMC is Victoria’s premier entertainment facility and the largest arena in British Columbia outside Vancouver. The state-of-the-art 7,000 seat facility is home to the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League and regularly hosts large-scale concerts and other special events such as figure skating, curling, plays, trade shows and conferences. SOFMC also features a fine dining Lion’s Den Restaurant, as well as retail and meeting space.

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