Royals forward Marcus Almquist, right, celebrates a goal during Wednesday’s Western Hockey League game against the Kelowna Rockets in Victoria. The Royals won 4-3 to sweep the two-game midweek set. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Royals)

Royals forward Marcus Almquist, right, celebrates a goal during Wednesday’s Western Hockey League game against the Kelowna Rockets in Victoria. The Royals won 4-3 to sweep the two-game midweek set. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Royals)

Victoria Royals improve WHL playoff chances with pair of wins over Kelowna

Capital city team holds seventh place in the Western Conference with seven games to go

Two wins in a mid-week series against Kelowna have helped the Victoria Royals put some distance between them and other teams vying for the final Western Hockey League playoff spots.

Heading into the weekend, Victoria has a five-point advantage over Prince George and Spokane in the Western Conference standings. The Royals currently hold seventh place, but making the postseason isn’t a guarantee just yet, with five of their last seven games coming against Prince George and Spokane.

A four-game win streak, however, has the Royals one win away from tying the sixth-place Vancouver Giants in points. That said, all teams around Victoria in the standings have games in hand, so piling up more wins continues to be important.

“They’re focused on the next game,” head coach Dan Price said of his players following Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the fifth-place Rockets. “I don’t have to remind them. We’re not thinking about anything beyond Friday, nothing about the regular season, nothing about the playoffs. We’re only focused on having a good day on Thursday and preparing and improving for Friday.”

During the March 23 win over Kelowna, the Royals were led with a four-assist night from Tanner Scott, a three-point effort from Marcus Almquist and two goals from Brayden Schuurman. Netminder Campbell Arnold also earned his first win of the season, stopping 36 of 39 shots.

Almquist scored the eventual game winner four minutes into the third, putting the Royals ahead 4-2.

On Tuesday, the Royals and Rockets traded goals back and forth during the first two periods and sat tied 2-2 going into the final frame. Bailey Peach’s team-leading 34th goal of the season, at the 13:43 mark, was the ultimate game winner while Tarun Fizer added his 15th into an empty net to seal the 4-2 victory.

The Royals continue their six-game homestand at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday (March 25) when they take on Prince George again at 7:05 p.m. The teams face off again on Saturday night in Victoria.

READ: Victoria Royals leapfrog into playoff spot after two wins against Prince George


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