Long road trips won’t be in the cards for the Victoria Royals as they get set to face off against the Vancouver Giants in opening round Western Hockey League playoff action next Friday (March 23).
The Royals, who lost both ends of a home-and-home with the U.S. Division and Western Conference regular season champion Everett this weekend – 8-1 last night at home and 3-2 Friday in Everett – finished second in the B.C. Division. That gave them home ice advantage for the first round series with the Langley-based Giants, who wound up third in B.C. behind Victoria and first-place Kelowna.
Under the hybrid WHL playoff format, the B.C. and U.S. division winners play the wild card teams in round 1, with the higher finishing winner playing the lower finishing wild card team. Everett takes on Seattle while Kelowna will face Tri-City.
That leaves the second and third-place teams in each division to play each other. The Royals (39-27-4-2) ended the regular season three points up on Vancouver (36-27-6-3) and leading the season series, 7-3, with two wins coming in shootouts.
Games 1 and 2 will be played at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday and Saturday (7:05 p.m.), then the series shifts to the Langley Events Centre for games 3 and 4 on March 27 and 29. The next games, if necessary, would alternate sites with Victoria hosting game 5 on March 31, the Giants game 6 on April 2 and the Royals game 7 on April 3.
Tickets are available at selectyourtickets.com or at the arena box office.
Tight game followed by season-worst blowout
One night after giving the hometown Silvertips a tough game in a 3-2 loss, the bottom dropped out of the Royals game. They left the sellout crowd on fan appreciation night at the Save-On Centre with little to celebrate Saturday, suffering their most lopsided loss of the season.
Matthew Phillips, with his 48th goal of the season, was the lone Royals shooter to find the Everett net. Patrick Bajkov had three goals, while Connor Dewar and Bryce Kindopp had two each to lead Everett, who outshot Victoria 34-19 on the night.
On Friday, Everett’s Luke Ormsby snapped a 2-2 tie 4:50 into the third period for the winning goal. The Royals mustered little offence during the period, being outshot 15-3, which gave the Silvertips a 44-22 overall margin. Dante Hannoun, with his 25th goal, and Noah Gregor, with his 29th, scored for the Royals.