With pre-season exhibition games now in the rear view mirror, the Victoria Royals set their sights on their home and season opener weekend.
The Western Hockey League team is still in the process of setting their roster, with just over a week to go before their first games, Sept. 21 and 22 against the Prince George Cougars.
The Royals shored up the defence on Monday, acquiring 1999-born Jameson Murray and a 10th-round pick in the 2019 WHL bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips, in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in 2019. Murray has 70 games under his belt over two seasons split between Calgary and Everett, with a goal and five assists to his credit.
Another newcomer, 2000-born forward Brandon Cutler, who came over from Red Deer, was in the lineup for the last three of Victoria’s pre-season games, recording three assists. Two of those came in a 3-2 loss to Prince George in Langley last Sunday.
The Royals had crafted a 4-0 pre-season record before the defeat’s mini-tournament They posted wins over Kelowna (6-5 in OT) and Kamloops (4-2) in their opening weekend, then beating Vancouver (5-3) and Everett (7-1) to start last weekend’s mini-tournament in Langley.
1999-born right winger D-Jay Jerome, who didn’t see a lot of playing time in 13 games with Victoria after being acquired from Prince Albert last January, showed he plans on making an impact for the Royals this season. His 10 pre-season points (five goals, five assists) led all Victoria skaters.
Rookie centre Philip Schultz was next in goals with four and he tied Tyler Lees for second in points with five. Royals veteran Dante Hannoun tallied four points in just two games, while rookie defenceman Remy Aquilon, groomed last year with some late season and playoff playing time, notched four assists to lead all blueliners.
Sturdy d-man Mitchell Prowse topped the plus-minus chart with a plus-5 rating, while chalking up two assists.
The Royals continue practice for the next week at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Game times next Friday and Saturday night are 7:05 p.m.
Campers await assignments … Victoria Royals players who can still technically return as overage players are at the tail end of rookie training camps with the various NHL clubs that drafted them. Among the forwards, Matthew Phillips (three assists in a 7-3 rookie game win over Edmonton on Sunday) is in Calgary, Tanner Kaspick is with St. Louis, Lane Zablocki is in Detroit and defenceman Scott Walford, currently on the injured list, remains with Montreal.
The eventual placement of all four has yet to be determined, but if any of their NHL rights holders choose to send them back for another season of junior, it will make things tricky for the Royals management, who already have three overage players on the roster in Griffen Outhouse, Dante Hannoun and defenceman Ralph Jarratt.