Youthful Royals ready to go against Blazers

Shaw TV to air Victoria Royals open WHL quarterfinal playoff series on road against Kamloops Blazers, Friday, March 23

Members of the Victoria Royals hold their sticks in the air as they salute the crowd following a victory over the Portland Winterhawks at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

Members of the Victoria Royals hold their sticks in the air as they salute the crowd following a victory over the Portland Winterhawks at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.



One thing you can count on come playoff time in the Western Hockey League is tight-lipped coaches.

Victoria Royals coach Marc Habscheid offered little about his club’s strategy on how they’ll attack the Kamloops Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.

Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal go tonight (March 23) and tomorrow in Kamloops. The series returns to Victoria for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’ve identified some things but we don’t want to share that,” Habscheid said. “We go over video, it’s been the routine (this week), to break (Kamloops’) game down and try to back it up with what we do in practice each day.”

Back in 1998-99 Habscheid coached the Blazers all the way to the WHL final, only to lose to the Calgary Hitmen. The Blazers have yet to win a playoff round since then and, in Habscheid’s eyes, this series is the Royals’ to steal.

“(Kamloops) had a good regular season, they’ve built for this season and they expect to move on from the first round this year. The pressure’s on them.”

The coach also believes his youthful squad isn’t getting the respect it deserves for knocking off the third-place Portland Winterhawks in the final two games of the season.

“We beat Portland and we’ve heard, ‘well they didn’t have (Sven) Bartschi. (But) when we’re in tune we’re a decent hockey team,” Habscheid said. “We’re a very young group. We like our skill. We just have to concentrate – not on being the best individually – but (on being) the best team.”

Blazers associate coach Dave Hunchak, however, put his team’s cards on the table.

“(Victoria’s) got two good offensive lines. They’re dangerous offensively. I think we need to make those two lines play defence as much as they possibly can,” he said.

“We know they’re going to be extremely physical and try and pound us and that’s been the case for the past three months. Every team that we play has a mandate to try and be physical with us. I expect Victoria to try and grind us down and we expect our guys to push right back.”

Aside from captain Hayden Rintoul and starting goalie Keith Hamilton, the Royals are without a lot of deep playoff experience. To make matters worse, forwards Robin Soudek, 20, and Brandon Magee, 18, and defenceman Zach Habscheid, 20, are doubtful for Friday’s opener.

All three played in last year’s opening playoff round series against the Spokane Chiefs.

Without them, the Royals are even younger.

“We have a lot of rookies this year and they’ll be playing some big roles,” Rintoul said. “Everyone’s going to be nervous and excited, you have to control your emotions and stay focused.”

The 21-year-old defenceman was on the WHL champion Kootenay Ice that went to the Memorial Cup last year. Rintoul helped the Ice defeat the Winterhawks  in the WHL final, where Hamilton was the backup.

“(Kootenay) didn’t have too many rookies last year. But you have to play your role and accept your role for the playoffs, and help out in any way you can.”

Royals watchShaw TV will air all seven games of the Royals versus Blazers quarterfinal series.

Game 1: Fri., March 23 7 p.m. at KamloopsGame 2: Sat., March 24 7 p.m. at KamloopsGame 3: Tues., March 27 7:05 p.m. at VictoriaGame 4: Wed., March 28 7:05 p.m. at Victoria

If necessaryGame 5: Fri., March 30 7 p.m. at KamloopsGame 6: Mon., April 2 7:05 p.m. at VictoriaGame 7: Wed., April 4 7 p.m. at Kamloops

 

 

Just Posted

Sofia Watts, Charlotte Magill and Harriet Knight were among the KELSET Elementary School students releasing salmon fry into Reay Creek May 7. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)
Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

North Saanich has started the design of a crosswalk at the intersection of Mills and Littlewood roads near Garden Child Care Centre, whose owner Tracey McCullough has been calling for such a sidewalk. As such, she has been echoing a previous appeal by the building’s owner, Heather and Cory Hastings, standing respectively with seven-year-old Jack Hastings and five-year-old Felix Hastings. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich moves ahead with crosswalk near child care centre

Crosswalk proposed for Littlewood and Mills roads parts of approved active transportation plan

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read