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Thread: Royals @ Kamloops Oct. 10

  1. #1

    Post Royals @ Kamloops Oct. 10

    Royals' veterans are leading the way


    Forward Brandon Magee, who does so much else well because of his jump and energy, doesn’t need to score goals to be of value to the Victoria Royals.

    But it sure doesn’t hurt.

    Magee’s six goals have been integral in Victoria already reaching the quarter plateau to the 24 victories it had all of last season in the Western Hockey League.

    “I’ve been at the right place at the right time,” said Magee.

    He attributes a good summer of preparation for that timing. “I went hard in off-season training,” said the Edmonton native.

    Being a free-agent invitee to the NHL rookie/development camp of his hometown Oilers was a boost.

    “The speed of those AHL and Coast [ECHL] players was a huge thing for me to experience; and to see where I need to be,” he said.

    As good as Magee and the Royals (6-2) have been in the early going, there’s always somebody better. And those somebodies are the Kamloops Blazers (5-0-1), whose .917 winning percentage is the best in the Western Conference and second-best in the WHL.

    The Royals and Blazers meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the Interior with 19-year-old Blazers forward JC Lipon coming into the game being named WHL player of the week for his three goals, seven points and plus-four rating in two Kamloops’ victories.

    The Blazers now also boast 20-year-old Brendan Ranford, back in the lineup after he was released by the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.

    “Kamloops is a tough team that plays extremely well at home,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry.

    “It is a highly-skilled team and a very disciplined team.”

    But the Royals themselves haven’t been far off the pace in the young season.

    “Our team has played well,” acknowledged Lowry.

    “I like the makeup of our team right now. We have a bit of everything. I like our chemistry.”

    Magee has been among the emerging team leaders, along with fellow veteran-forward Logan Nelson.

    “Our top guys have been very good at putting pressure on the younger guys to keep up,” noted Lowry.

    “And they have [kept up].”

    Among them is 16-year-old rookie defenceman Joe Hicketts, who is evolving quite nicely as an undersized but effective puck-moving rearguard.

    “I’m learning both sides of the game from the older guys — that practice and preparation matter more than just playing the games,” said Hicketts.

    The native of Kamloops goes into his hometown tonight for his first WHL regular-season game.

    “I’ll see my friends and family but I have to zone that out and leave the distractions until the end of the game,” he said.

    Hicketts has the satisfaction of returning home as part of a Royals team on a bit of a roll.

    A big reason for that has been the play of Buffalo Sabres draft-pick Nelson, who just eats up the ice.

    “It’s been fun and we deserve our good start,” said Nelson,who has three goals, nine points and a plus-five rating.

    “We want to keep playing the way we have been. We’re playing as one unit. We need all four lines in order to win.”

    Yet, there is a clear hierarchy on any team.

    “I take great pride in being a leader this year,” said Nelson, a candidate to be on the U.S. team for the 2013 world junior championship in Russia.

    “In the last two minutes of a close game, I want to hear my name called to be on the ice.”

    Meanwhile, things have been going well enough that Lowry feels no urgency to name a team captain.

    “We’re in no hurry,” he said.

    ICE CHIPS: Forward Steven Hodges, a 2012 third-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while defenceman Jordan Fransoo, a 2011 seventh-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, will be a game-time decision tonight . . .

    The Blazers added some Island flavour Monday, acquiring defenceman Sam Grist from the Tri-City Americans. In exchange for the 19-year-old North Saanich native, the Blazers sent a third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft to Tri-City.

  2. #2

    Post Unbeaten Blazers burn Royals

    Unbeaten Blazers burn Royals


    When the Western Hockey League schedule was released, few could have envisioned Wednesday night’s game between the Victoria Royals and host Kamloops Blazers being even remotely considered as a marquee match-up.

    Everybody knew the Blazers would be rated high — No. 3 in the latest BMO Mastercard Canadian Hockey League top-10 — but few could have anticipated the Royals being cited as an honourable mention in the poll.

    The Blazers (6-0-1) defeated the surprising Royals (6-3) by a 5-2 count at the Interior Savings Centre to further validate their high ranking. Victoria was left with a humbling lesson of just how far they need to go to get into the top tier. The Blazers’ dominance was evident during a second period in which the Royals were outshot 17-0.

    Kamloops is 2-0-1 against Victoria on the season.

    “We knew they were a good team coming in. And they were the better team tonight,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry.

    “If you don’t get a shot on net in the second period, you’re not going to win too many games.”

    JC Lipon opened the scoring at 17:51 of the first period and then assisted on Colin Smith’s goal at 15:24 of the second. It was the fourth goal and fifth assist in the last three games for the 19-year-old Kamloops forward, who was named WHL player of the week.

    Brendan Ranford, a 20-year-old forward back with the Blazers after recently being released by the Hamilton Bulldogs of the pro AHL, stuck the dagger in at 19:14 of the second with the 3-0 goal. Ranford also assisted on Lipon’s goal for a two-point night.

    Victoria pressed in the third period with an 18-7 shots advantage and got goals by Jamie Crooks and Tyler Crunk, the latter his first of the season and on the power play. Both Royals goals were assisted by Buffalo Sabres draft pick Logan Nelson.

    “We had a good push in the third period and I thought we responded well [to the shot-less second frame],” said Lowry.

    Swiss whiz Tim Bozon and Cole Ully scored for Kamloops in the third.

    Victoria starter Patrik Polivka, playing the first two periods, made 21 saves on 24 shots. Rookie Coleman Vollrath, making his WHL debut in the third period, made five saves on seven shots. Cole Cheveldave made 25 saves in the Kamloops nets.

    ICE CHIPS: Returning to the Victoria line-up was defenceman Jordan Fransoo. Forward Steven Hodges remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and was again out. . . . Veteran defenceman Sam Grist of North Saanich, acquired Tuesday by Kamloops in a trade with the Tri-City Americans, did not dress . .

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