Royals settling into new Memorial home

South Island Royals major midget team through first half of season under the WHL Royals brolly

South Island Royals forward Cole Pickup

Just past the halfway point of the season, it’s safe to say the South Island Royals of the B.C. Major Midget League have settled into their new home with relative success.

The Royals (7-11-5) hosted and split the weekend’s two game set with the Greater Vancouver Canadians (11-8-2) at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, winning 5-1 on Saturday afternoon and losing 3-1 on Sunday morning.

The win is the Royals’ seventh, which is more than double last year’s three-win season.

“Compared to last year we’ve taken some strides, the guys are feeling good about what we’re doing,” head coach Geoff Grimwood said. “Saturday was a tremendous team effort from the goalie out. (Sunday) we had a tough time breaking through, we felt if we got the second one we would have broke it open.”

Goalie Jesse Jenks played both games for the Royals, getting his fifth win on Saturday. He was supported by goals from Brodie Smith, Ethan Waitzner, Jordan Martin, Cole Pickup and Brandon Tutte. Pickup scored the only goal in Sunday’s 3-1 loss.

“We ran into a hot goalie today,” said Smith, a 15-year-old who scored the first goal on Saturday, his first game back after three weeks off due to an infected foot.

“(Saturday) we got one first and got the momentum in our hand. (Sunday) everyone was pumped again, but they scored first and it just felt like we were playing from behind.”

Sunday also marked the last game for the Royals before the holiday break, though the group will practice all this week.

“We spent some time talking to the guys (Sunday) and let them know the improvement from four months ago is significant,” the coach said.

Grimwood’s first season heading the high performance program of 15 to 17 year olds (he served the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Powell River Kings of the B.C. Hockey League) is also the first season of the new relationship between the Western Hockey League Victoria Royals, and the major midget Royals, previously known as the Thunderbirds.

Part of the relationship is Grimwood’s dual position, as both the head coach of the midget team and an assistant coach with the WHL Royals.

The biggest change within the partnership is the midget Royals access to Memorial Centre. Until this year, the Thunderbirds played and practised in arenas from North Saanich to Duncan.

Now the program is transitioning from a nomadic existence to a junior A mentality.

“The new partnership is a real advantage, it’s given us a team dressing room, a team gym facility and a chance to build a program in a home, which has been lacking in the past,” Grimwood said.

The South Island Royals season returns with a road trip against the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in Chilliwack on Jan. 5 and Abbotsford on Jan. 6.

WHL futures

Pickup (13 goals, 28 points in 22 games) leads the team in scoring. He and Waitzner are property of the WHL Prince George Cougars. Smith and goalie Markus Daly, a fellow Racquet Club product, are both in the WHL Royals system, while Haydn Hopkins is a Saskatoon Blades draft pick.

sports@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read