State of the Royals
It’s week 2 of the WHL season and the boys are on the road this weekend after their home debut in front of over 7,000 Victoria Royals hockey fans and drawing the highest WHL ratings on Shaw in years.
Safe to say Victoria loves their Royals.
The Royals split a home-and-home with the Giants last weekend to kick the season off, taking advantage of a shorthanded Giants team missing Brenden Gallagher due to his surprising camp in Montreal.
Steven Hodges secured his place in Royals history with the franchises first goal in the third period of a 5-2 loss in Vancouver Friday. Robin Soudek secured the other as Marc Habscheid coached his 600th career WHL game.
The next night in Victoria the Royals did the crowd right with an exciting 5-3 victory. Kevin Sundher led the way with a goal and two helpers while Keith Hamilton was fantastic, making 48 saves to frustrate the Giants scorers. The Royals powerplay, sixth in the WHL last year, stepped up with two special teams markers.
Games This Week
The Royals are in Prince George tonight and tomorrow for the first two of eight meetings this season, before ending the trip in Kamloops on Sunday. Brett Connolly, the standout Tampa prospect, is still at Lightning camp and unavailable for the Prince George Cougars this weekend.The Prince George Cougars, remember, were the original Victoria Cougars until 1994.
News and Notes
The Royals cut 19-year-old blueliner Emerson Hrynyk on Monday, reducing their roster to 26. 20-year-old forward Curt Gogol has been assigned by the San Jose Sharks to baby Sharks camp in Worcester this week. With Worcester’s season starting October 9, the Royals should learn the fate of Gogol in time for the WHL 20-year-old cutdown draft October 13.
This week we feature the hero of the Royals home opening win, goalie Keith Hamilton. Hamilton, acquired from the Portland Winterhawks in June, led the Royals to victory despite the team being outshot 51-25. Hamilton credited the atmosphere of the crowd as inspiration, comparing the fans intensity to that of the Winterhawk fans during the team’s playoff run to the WHL Championship series last year. Habscheid hasn’t tipped his hand towards this weekend’s starters, but whoever gets the start will be in tough against Cougars standout goalie Drew Owsley, who put up a 32 save shutout in Prince George’s season opener against Kamloops.