Royals preview: Time to turn it around, for the fans

Victoria Royals are in a skid and look to right the ship as Kamloops Blazers visit Nov. 29 & 30

Steven Hodges and the Victoria Royals look to turn things around against the visiting Kamloops Blazers Tuesday and Wednesday night at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre

As Christmas season rolls around and the holidays bring out the last of Victoria’s hockey fans make it out to see the Victoria Royals for the first time, it’s also the perfect time for city’s latest hockey team to end its four-game losing skid and put a few wins together.

After all, the honeymoon is fading.

The wrapping from summer’s gift of major junior hockey has officially been removed and recycled. The cover is off and the Royals (11-14-1) true colours are showing.

That said, there’s lots to love about the Royals. They’re feisty, high scoring (most of the time) and talented. But they’re young, and that means they need some time to grow.

The club is surely hoping its current stretch of growing pains can end as division rivals Kamloops Blazers (16-7-1) visit today (Tuesday Nov. 29) and tomorrow, a rare mid-week stopover.

In a losing skid that started so horribly, giving up 19 goals against in two games Nov. 18 and 19, so many things went right for the Royals in Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Kelowna Rockets, to have it end on a disallowed goal half a second after the game-ending buzzer made the loss that much harder to bear.

Often times the game before a team breaks its slump is one where things don’t quite go right, despite having done the right things. And the Royals are hoping Saturday was just that.

The Royals have only won once in the past seven games, a 4-3 shootout victory over the Red Deer Rebels.

What’s up with the new guy?

  • A lot of hype surrounded import Ben Walker’s arrival last week as an offensive boost for the club, though the Minnesota high schooler is scoreless in two games. To be fair to Walker, he’d been recruited since much earlier and was already a lock to join the team when the Royals hit bottom (see above). But the way the Royals puffed up his arrival came across as a beaming ray of salvation, as though they’d twinned Logan Nelson. Walker, however, was not at the top of any scoring races and though Nelson wasn’t either, it’s hard to figure lightning will strike twice. Expect Walker to find his stride after a couple more games, having come to a league of men from a high school league.

Where are they now:

  • “Assigned” to junior A last week, Brendan Persley has surfaced with the perennial powerhouse Vernon Vipers of the B.C. Hockey League, where he last played in 2009-10 before joining the Chilliwack Bruins. The scrappy winger started this season with a goal and two fights (he had eight last year) in just nine games. In his first two BCHL games Persley has yet to register a point.
  • Goalie Braden Gamble returned to his former club the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League following his release in mid October.
  • Emerson Hrynyk, who was released from the Royals back on Sept. 26 after two seasons in the WHL with Prince Albert and the Bruins last year, has played 15 games with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior A Hockey League.
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