The Victoria Royals will advance to the second-round of the Western Hockey League playoffs for the first time in franchise history tonight (April 4) when they faceoff against the Portland Winterhawks.
But it won’t be easy against the heavily favoured Winterhawks.
The Winterhawks have won their last 11 games, 32 out of the last 33, and last week they scored three goals in 56 seconds against the Vancouver Giants to sweep their opening series. The Royals took out the Spokane Chiefs in four straight games.
The Royals-Winterhawk series begins in Portland tonight for the first two games of the series. The teams play in Victoria on Monday and Tuesday.
“Obviously, we’re excited,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry. “We’re heading into new territory for our hockey club. We have the opportunity to take on one of the top teams in the country and it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
Lowry believes the tough odds only make the players more determined than ever to beat their opponents.
“Nobody expects us to win, so it’s a great feeling for us,” said Lowry. “We’re going to have to play our best hockey and hopefully, they’ll have a little chink in their armour.”
Royals goalie Patrick Polivka, 20, has the opportunity to showcase his skills this weekend. He has performed extremely well in the post-season, allowing only three goals on 55 shots to end the series against the Chiefs, finishing with a .945 save percentage.
This weekend the pressure on Polivka will be extreme, and he’ll have to overcome any doubts to give Royals’ star forwards a chance to work their magic.