The Victoria Royals (15-28-2-3) play their first home game in 20 days tonight against the top team in the WHL, the Kamloops Blazers (34-10-1-3).
The Royals (0-4-1-0) have yet to defeat the Blazers in 5 meetings, earning a single point in a 6-5 overtime loss back in Victoria November 30th, and dropped their last encounter 4-2 in Kamloops December 3rd. The Blazers have out scored the Royals 26-13 this season.
LAST GAMES: After travelling 5,247 km in 2 weeks, Victoria returns home with a 2-4 record against the Eastern Division. They picked up wins in Brandon and Prince Albert, with losses coming in Regina, Swift Current, Moose Jaw and most recently a 9-6 defeat Saturday in Saskatoon.
Victoria is in the 8th and final playoff spot in the West with 35 points, 3 up on Prince George. The Blazers are one up on Tri City, have points in their last ten while climbing to the top of the WHL standings, earning them the number two ranking in all of Canada.
Victoria 2 @ Kamloops 4 (Dec 3 2011) Final
Kamloop 6 @ Victoria 5 (Nov 30 2011) F OT
Kamloops 4 @ Victoria 3 (Nov 29 2011) Final
Victoria 1 @ Kamloops 4 (Nov 25 2011) Final
Victoria 2 @ Kamloops 8 (Oct 2 2011) Final
BLAZING NUMBERS: Kamloops is tied for the most road wins in the league with 16, have scored the most ‘first goals’ with 34, and are unsurpassed in short handed goals with 14. With five, 20 goal scorers, the Blazers combined have scored the 3rd most goals per game. Kamloops has been stingy in January, only allowing 14 goals in their last 10, the 4th fewest against in the league. Their special teams are both ranked 7th overall.
Kamloops first and third period are their strongest, out scoring the opposition by 27 and 26 goals respectively, and only by 10 in the middle frame.
WHO TO WATCH: Brendan Ranford (PHI ’10) is on a 4 game point streak (3g 3a), ranked 13th in scoring with 59 points. Overager F Colin Smith is over a point per game with 57 in 48 games. Swiss born F Tim Bozon, will play at the Top Prospects game (rank 39) and is 2nd in rookie scoring with 47 points. D Austin Madaisky is 7th in defenseman scoring (38), and 2nd among rearguards in power play goals (9). Cole Cheveldave has the 3rd best GAA (2.32), and 4th best save percentage (91.8%).
For the Royals, leading scorer Jamie Crooks led the charge offensively on the eastern trek with 7 points (4g 3a), and rookie Logan Nelson had 6 (3g 3a). Newly acquired defenseman Jordan Fransoo picked up 4 assists while netminder Keith Hamilton played in all six games. Crooks, Nelson and D Kade Pilton all have 4 points in their last 2 outings.
Victoria players points on 6 game eastern road swing: Crooks 7, Nelson 6, Walker 5, Soudek 5, Hodges 5, Fransoo 4, Pilton 4, Magee 3, Jones 2, Carroll 3 (in 2 games), Rintoul 2
DRAFTED/NHL SIGNED PLAYERS: For Victoria: D Tyler Stahl (Carolina, 6th rd 2010), D Jordan Fransoo (Ottawa, 7th rd 2011). For Kamloops: Brendan Ranford (PHI ’10), D Austin Madaisky (CBJ ’10).
TOP PROSPECTS: Central Scoutings mid-term rankings of North American players positions Victoria’s Steven Hodges (55), and Logan Nelson (108). For Kamloops: Tim Bozon (39).
Injuries: For Victoria: #6, Jesse Zgraggen, Upper body, indefinite, #7, Tyler Stahl, Upper body, indefinite. For Kamloops: #13, Ryan Hanes, Upper body,day to day, #17, Jordan DePape, Upper body, 1 month, #22, Brandon Herrod, Lower body, day to day. Returns #7, Brady Gaudet, from injury
Playoff Picture: The Royals are in the 8th and final playoff spot with 35 points, 3 more than the Cougars who have 2 in hand. Victoria faces Prince George 6 more times, and will have 4 meetings with 10th place Everett. Here’s a breakdown of the remaining games::
Victoria: Home Games (15), Away (9)
Opposition: Prince George x 6, Everett x 4, Calgary x 1, Van x 3, Spok x 3, Kelowna x 1, Tri x 1, Portland x 2, Kamloops x 3
Prince George: Home (16) Away (10)
Opposition: Victoria x 6, Everett x 2, Kelowna x 3, Seattle x 2, Red Deer x 1,
Edmonton x 2, Portland x 2, Medicine Hat x 2, Spokane x 2, Kam x 2, Tri x 2