Royals hit the road for three contests against BC Division opponents

Victoria will play two games against Prince George on Friday and Saturday before taking on Kamloops on Sunday

The Victoria Royals will set sail for the Mainland this weekend for a trio of matchups against two BC Division opponents, taking on the Prince George Cougars on Friday and Saturday before wrapping up against the Kamloops Blazers on Sunday.

Victoria (14-28-4-1) will be looking to bounce-back from a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday night and to pick up some crucial points in the playoff race with wins this weekend.

Forward Jake Poole is coming off a breakthrough month for the Royals, recording 20 points on eight goals and 12 assists with nine multi-point performances since the calendar turned over.

Victoria will need the 20-year-old to remain in top form against some tough division opponents this weekend. He leads all Royals skaters with 55 points (27 goals, 28 assists) in 46 games this season.

Goaltender Braden Holt has enjoyed a solid start to 2023 as well, amassing a 7-3-1-0 record with two shutouts, a 3.17 goals against average (GAA) and a .905 save percentage (SV%) in 12 games since arriving in a trade from Everett prior to the start of the new year. He is expected to resume his starting role this weekend.

With three games on consecutive nights, we could also see backup goaltender Nicholas Cristiano make an appearance. The 18-year-old has posted a 4-9-0-0 record with a 4.38 GAA and a .857 save percentage in 15 games played with the Royals.

Victoria will begin the weekend with a pair of matchups against the Prince George Cougars on Friday and Saturday night.

Prince George (19-21-4-0) has defeated Victoria in both their two meetings this year, winning 9-1 and 5-2 on back-to-back nights during a weekend set on the Island in mid-November.

The Cougars feature one of the top scoring duos in the league in forwards Koehn Ziemmer and Riley Heidt, both of whom are projected as early-round picks in this year’s NHL Draft.

Ziemmer leads the team in scoring with 62 points on 26 goals and 36 assists over 44 games this year, but is closely followed by Heidt, who has recorded 60 points of his own on 19 goals and 41 assists in 44 appearances.

The Cougars also benefit from a talented stable of goaltenders, featuring the 18-year-old Ty Young and 19-year-old Tyler Brennan.

Young, a Vancouver Canucks draft pick, has made the majority of starts for Prince George this season, earning an 11-12-2-0 record with one shutout, a 3.88 GAA and a .892 SV% over 27 appearances, while Brennan–a New Jersey Devils prospect–has posted a 7-8-2-0 record with a 3.54 GAA and a .883 SV% in 20 games played.

Following back-to-back contests against Prince George, Victoria will travel south to round out the weekend with a matchup against the BC Division-leading Kamloops Blazers on Sunday.

It will mark the third meeting in the past week, and eighth matchup of the season, between the Blazers and Royals. Kamloops currently holds a 5-2 lead in the season series, however the Royals have taken two of the past four games, including a dramatic 3-2 victory at home last Saturday night.

Kamloops (28-10-4-2) remains one of the most talent-rich teams in the league, featuring three members–forwards Logan Stankoven, Caedan Bankier, and defenceman Olen Zellweger–of the Team Canada squad that captured gold at the 2023 World Juniors last month.

Stankoven has put together the most impressive season out of the trio, ranking third in the WHL with 67 points on 26 goals and 41 assists in 30 games this year, with six of those points (three goals, three assists) coming in four games against the Royals this season.

Dylan Ernst remains the main option in net for the Blazers this season, earning a 25-8-2-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.59 GAA and a .912 SV% over 37 games played.

2004-born netminder Matthew Kieper provides backup duties for Kamloops. He has posted a 6-5-0-1 record with a 4.19 GAA and a .868 SV% over 15 games between Kamloops and the Regina Pats this year.

Puck drop for the first two games of the weekend is set for 7 pm on Friday, Feb. 3 and 6 pm on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the CN Centre in Prince George, BC.

Meanwhile, the third and final game of the weekend is set to begin at 5 pm at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, BC.

Players to watch:


#29 Teague Patton (F) – 48 GP, 35 PTS (11 G, 24 A)

#11 Matthew Hodson (F) – 48 GP, 28 PTS (15 G, 13 A)

#8 Kalem Parker (D) – 48 GP, 28 PTS (5 G, 23 A)

Prince George:

#29 Chase Wheatcroft (F) – 44 GP, 58 PTS (28 G, 30 A)

#4 Hudson Thornton (D) – 44 GP, 44 PTS (11 G, 33 A)


#3 Olen Zellwegger (D) – 31 GP, 43 PTS (15 G, 28 A)

#13 Caedan Bankier (F) – 33 GP, 46 PTS (22 G, 24 A)

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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 12th 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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