© Copyright – 2015 – Victoria Sports News
What happened to the Victoria Royals? They lost their third straight game Wednesday night after starting the season with a franchise record of 7-1-0-0.
The answer is nothing happened.
During the recent losses, the Royals have been in each game and their record is still a respectable 7-4-0-0. Not to be overlooked is the fact that they started the season at home with six consecutive and seven of the first nine games at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
Last night they lost to the Kamloops Blazers 3-2 in Kamloops on a late game effort by Collin Shirley, a backbreaking goal with 32 seconds remaining in the game to break a 2-2 tie. Thirty-two seconds can be forever when hanging onto a lead, but 32 seconds is cruel and unusual punishment when you are down by just one goal, especially a very late goal; it’s gone in a flash.
The Blazers did outshoot the Royals 34-29; however, they had two extra power play opportunities, which although they did not convert on them, they may have gained some momentum. Momentum is one of those intangible products that can influence the paper thin line between getting a win and skating away knowing that one bounce the other way sometime during the two-and-a-half hour game could have made all the difference in the world. The 72-game WHL schedule is full of what ifs. That’s one of the allures to WHL hockey.
The Royals’ stunning start was bolstered by the all-star level play of forwards Tyler Soy, Alex Forsberg, Vladimir Bobylev and Jack Walker as well as defensemen Joe Hicketts and Chaz Reddekopp and goaltender Coleman Vollrath. Vollrath at times could take a nap in net, and then suddenly need to stand on his head for a short onslaught. Some goalies will tell you that is tougher to do than to face a consistent offence.
Ethan Price, who was picked up after the Portland Winterhawks unceremoniously dropped him, had some exceptional moments during that 7-and-1 run. The Royals defeated his former team at SOFMC 4-1 and 6-5, respectively, during back-to-back games to open the season. It appeared that once Price got past those two games, his confidence level came up.
After Victoria defeated Spokane 4-1 on October 7th, Cleve Dheensaw of the Times Colonist referred to Price as a reclamation project; head coach Dave Lowry didn’t disagree with him. The diminutive Price has five points in 11 games. His play may be overshadowed by the top line of Bobylev, Walker and Forsberg and their eye-popping offence.
During the first eight games of the season, Forsberg earned Western Hockey League (WHL) and Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Player of the Week honours. Hicketts was named to the Team CHL roster to play in the Canada-Russia series happening November 9th and 10th in Kelowna and Kamloops, respectively. Also, Vollrath was named CHL goaltender of the week during week two.
Last night, Vollrath stopped 31 of the 34 shots fired at him, while Kamloops’ goaltender Connor Ingram turned aside 27 of the 29 shots he faced.
The Royals will head to Spokane for a two-game set against the Chiefs on Friday and Saturday. The teams split their earlier two-game stand at SOFMC. The Royals played well enough to have won both of those games.
Puck drop for both games is slated for 7:05 p.m.
Victoria returns home on Tuesday, October 27th against the Lethbridge Hurricanes for Winter Driving Awareness Night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.