The Victoria Royals sat outside of the Western Hockey League’s playoff picture before the weekend as they trailed the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs in the Western Conference standings.
But back-to-back weekend wins in Victoria over Prince George meant the Royals found themselves in seventh place and ahead of both teams by Saturday night.
Victoria was three points behind the Cougars going into Friday’s game at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Royals defenceman Devin Aubin shone during the 6-2 win, notching his first two goals of the season and adding an assist, a day after his 19th birthday.
“I’ve never seen a guy more driven and determined to work his way into the lineup and into a role,” Royals head coach Dan Price said of Aubin. “He was literally diving in front of pucks in practice like it was a playoff game, that’s why he got his opportunity and that’s why he succeeded.”
Big performances from Bailey Peach and goaltender Tyler Palmer helped Victoria shut out the Cougars 3-0 on Saturday (March 19). Palmer made 35 stops for his third career shutout while Peach was the night’s only goal scorer.
Peach said his team’s big night was more important than his hat trick performance.
“We came out with the same mindset as last night, just tried to keep the pressure on them,” he said postgame. “It was nice to get the win, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
The win pushed Prince George out of a playoff spot, but the Cougars and Spokane remain just a single point back of Victoria. Neither the Cougars or Chiefs play until Friday, so the Royals will try to gain some insurance points when they host the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Puck drop for both of those games is set for 7:05 p.m.
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