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The Royals would like to continue their hot streak and roll into the Western Hockey League play-offs on a high – something they have enjoyed for a very long time.
The Royals have just two games remaining in the regular season, both against the Everett Silvertips. They play tonight in Everett and the second game is Saturday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
After clinching first overall in Kelowna on Wednesday night, by defeating the Rockets 7-4, the Royals will have to remain focussed, something they have done for most of the season which includes an incredible run of 24-1-2 over the previous 27 games.
The Royals will face either the Spokane Chiefs or the Portland Winterhawks. The Winterhawks have a game in-hand over the Chiefs, but they are tied with 73 points each. Both teams are on a bit of a slide over the previous 10 games and will have to get serious if they want to challenge the Royals.
The Winterhawks are 3-5-2-0 and the Chiefs are 3-6-0-1 over the past 10 games, while the Royals are 10-0-0-0, but anything can and usually does happen in the playoffs.
The last time that a Victoria-based team won a Major Junior title, by finishing first overall in the WHL and being awarded the Scotty Munro Trophy was the Victoria Cougars, who now play out of Prince George. They won back in 1980-1981, 35 years ago.
The Royals have a young team that is built primarily on speed, however, they hit hard. All-star defenseman Joe Hicketts is a great example. At 5’ 8” he is small as far as defenseman go, but he hits relentlessly. Hicketts never takes a shift off, which is one reason why he signed an NHL contract with the Detroit Red Wings during the off-season. “It’s easy to watch a guy like Hicketts play,” said super star rookie Matthew Phillips when asked about which veterans he watches on the team.
The Royals have a deep attack, with four players in the top-20 points scoring race and six players with 20-plus goals this season, they score by committee. Coach Dave Lowry said at the beginning of the season, “This team will have to have scoring by committee.”
The WHL playoff championship is a long way away as is the Memorial Cup. For now the Royals need to focus on playing Everett twice in two nights, like a play-off home-and-home two-game set, which the Royals have excelled at all season.
Saturday’s puck drop at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre is at 7:05 PM.