Western hockey league
A recent poll on the official Victoria Royals website asked fans who they expected to become the Royals main rival and not surprisingly the Vancouver Giants took it with an overwhelming 73% of the votes.
While geographical proximity and the large number of Vancouverites that now call Victoria home would alone have assured sparks to fly when these two teams meet, don’t forget these boys already know each other very well from the past few years when the rivalry was Giants/Bruins and the teams met in the first round in 2007 and the following year 2008.
It’s a far cry from the days of the Salmon Kings and trying to muster some hate for Anchorage or Bakersfield.
This rivalry will be easy and natural if not one-sided in the near future (but hey that’s never stopped Oilers/Canucks games from having meaning). The Vancouver Giants introduced themselves Friday night as ‘arguably the best WHL team of the last decade’, meaning these matchups will also double as measuring sticks for the young Royals squad.
At the least, Don Hay and March Habscheid, two of the best coaches in the league, will absolutely have their teams running on adrenaline and pride when these two teams meet.
The teams met for the first time friday night in a spirited affair that saw the Royals fall to the Giants 5-2, with Steven Hodges scoring the franchise’s first goal in the third period.
It was a different story in Victoria however as the Royals did their home opener right with a 5-3 victory. Jamie Crooks took advantage of the electric atmosphere in the building by notching the first Royals goal just three minutes into the game, but it was Keith Hamilton’s 48 saves that stood out. In contrast, the Royals managed to score on half of their four second period shots.
The two games also saw four fights and over a dozen roughing penalties each, proving that many players on both sides were well aware of each other from back in the Chilliwack Bruins days. The Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants seem ready to perpetually lock horns in the WHL.