Royals ride to Okanagan for games against Rockets, Blazers
The Victoria Royals will make a trip to the Okanagan for a pair of games against the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers this weekend.
The Royals begin the month of March with three wins in their last five contests, the most recent coming in a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants last Saturday night.
Team captain Tarun Fizer has provided a much needed spark for the Royals’ offence the last few games, recording 15 points (five goals, ten assists) in nine games since his return from injury in early February.
Goaltending has been another key to Victoria’s recent success, with the duo of Tyler Palmer and Campbell Arnoldlimiting teams to three goals or less in four of the last five games. Palmer was also named the league’s goaltender of the week after recording his second career shutout and stopping 62 of 64 total shots over two starts against the Vancouver Giants.
Forward Brayden Schuurman is another one to watch for the Royals this weekend, having played well against both his team’s opponents this coming weekend. The Abbotsford, BC product has posted 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in nine games against the Rockets and nine points (five goals, four assists) in 11 contests against the Blazers this year.
The team will look to carry their momentum into a Friday night tilt against the Kelowna Rockets, who currently sit fifth in the conference with a 31-14-1-3 record with 66 points on the season. They have defeated the Royals in eight of nine contests this season, with the most recent matchup ending in a 4-3 victory for Kelowna back on January 26.
The Rockets are led on offence by Czech-born forward Pavel Novak, who has recorded 54 points (22 goals, 32 assists) on the season, counting 18 of those (nine goals, nine assists) in nine games against Victoria this season.
2002-born forward Jake Poole has also been a thorn in the Royals’ side in 2021-2022, recording 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in eight contests.
The expected starter in goal for Kelowna is the ever-sturdy Taylin Boyko, who has played the third most minutes of any WHL goaltender this season (2,353) and ranks sixth in total wins with a 21-14-1 record on the season.
It won’t get any easier for the Royals on Saturday when the team heads to Kamloops to play the division-leading Blazers.
Their 36-14-2-0 record and 74 points has them sitting second place in the Western Conference, trailing the first place Everett Silvertips by just six points.
The Blazers are led by the two-headed offensive monster of Logan Stankoven (29 goals, 43 assists, 74 points) and Luke Toporowski (34 goals, 28 assists, 62 points), who rank first and second on the team in points. Both have played well against Victoria this season, with Stankoven recording 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in ten contests, and Toporowski counting 11 (eight goals, three assists) in eight games.
In addition to having to stop the potent Kamloops offence, the Royals will face the challenge of trying to beat the league’s best goaltender in Dylan Garand. The Victoria native leads all WHL net-minders with a 2.08 goals against average (GAA) and ranks second with a .922 save percentage (SV%) with a 25-7-0 record on the season.
Backup Dylan Ernst provides another strong option should the Blazers choose to rest Garand on Saturday. The Wayburn, SK product has earned the win in all six starts made against Victoria in 2021-2022, owning a 0.899 SV%, 2.94 GAA and a 11-7-2 overall record on the year.
Victoria (15-31-4-1, 35 points) enters the weekend locked in a three-way tie with the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With just over six weeks remaining in the regular season, a win this weekend would help the team gain an upper hand in the push towards a spot in the 2022 postseason.
Puck drop for both games is set for 7 pm, with Friday’s match taking place at Prospera Place in downtown Kelowna, and Saturday’s game at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.
The Royals will then return to Victoria to play their next set of home games on March 8 and 9 against the Portland Winterhawks.
For tickets to upcoming Royals 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.
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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 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.