Star players undo Royals

Giants, Thunderbirds gobble Royals during Thanksgiving road trip

VICTORIA ROYALS GAME DAY: Friday Oct. 14 vs. Kelowna Rockets at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, 7:05 p.m.

Big-ticket excitement was thrust on the Victoria Royals over the long weekend as a pair of Western Hockey League stars were the Royals’ undoing.

Brendan Gallagher’s return to the Vancouver Giants from the Montreal Canadiens proved the difference a star can make at the WHL level as the Giants won 5-1 over the Victoria Royals on Monday. Gallagher was in on all five of his team’s goals, scoring three and assisting on the other two.

Czech rookie Lucas Kralik scored the lone Royals goal, his first in the WHL.

Monday’s was the second straight loss for Royals after dropping Saturday’s game 5-4 against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Hayden Rintoul, Kade Pilton, Kevin Sundher and Austin Carroll all scored to tie the game 4-4 after being down 3-1 in Seattle. But Branden Troock scored his second of the game three minutes left to restore the Thunderbirds’ lead.

As for Monday’s dominating game by Gallagher, it came just three days after Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers was in on all four of his team’s goals in the Royals’ 5-4 win on Friday. Add to that another two goals by Etem, an Anaheim Ducks first round draft pick, in the Tigers 4-2 win over the Royals on Thursday.

Clearly the Royals were on the wrong end of some big nights (should Etem keep his current pace up, he will end the 72-game season with an unheard of 122 goals) but the team’s defensive struggles continue. And it doesn’t get any easier with the uncertainty of when two of the team’s top-four defenceman will return, Tyler Stahl and Zach Habscheid.

The Royals now have four wins and five losses, third in the B.C. Division, but have given up 43 goals, the most in the WHL.