With 72 games and 6 months of regular season WHL hockey in the books, it’s time to get down to business.
The Victoria Royals will once again participate in post-season action, having qualified for their seventh consecutive season, and making the playoffs every year since relocation in 2011.
And now Royals fans will be treated to the increased intensity of playoff hockey and the lovely experience of sharing the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre with 7,006 fans who can’t keep their eyes off of that little black disc.
Here are 5 reasons to watch the Royals in the 2018 playoffs!
1 – Life is timing
A lot of WHL championships are won with great timing.
Due to the age structure of the WHL, where the league is primarily comprised of 16-20 year olds, teams often find themselves in three to five-year cycles. You draft a core of players, you raise a core of players, and if they’ve got what it takes when they’re 19, you go for glory.
This is precisely where the Victoria Royals find themselves. The core of Royals that this city now knows best were drafted in 2012 and 2013 and have been grown by the organization, now occupying key roles.
In 2012, the Royals drafted both Tyler Soy and Chaz Reddekopp in the first round. In 2013, the team selected Dante Hannoun in the first round and captain Matthew Phillips in the second round. In 2014, Scott Walford was added to the organization in the first round.
Well, those eggs have now hatched (pardon the Easter pun). Phillips is a superstar, Soy holds the franchise record in just about every major offensive category, and Hannoun and Reddekopp have been playing key roles for several years now.
It will be time to say goodbye to this core very soon – such is the limited lifespan of the WHL. The time is now for these guys, and it’s up to us to support them.
Which bring us to our next point.
2 – The Royals went all in at the trade deadline
The Victoria Royals went all in at the trade deadline, bringing in a half-dozen new players and increasing the veteran presence on the roster. Royals General Manager Cam Hope wants to give this group a shot at glory.
Hope sacrificed raw offensive output (players like Regan Nagy and Jared Legien) for players with a two-way understanding of hockey, banking that his star trio of Phillips, Hannoun, and Soy could still produce offense.
Tanner Kaspick and Lane Zablocki were both added at the deadline, while Noah Gregor and Jeff de Wit joined the black and blue a few weeks prior.
All four of those players are physical, defensively responsible players, and all four can also contribute on offense.
3 – This is the best offense Victoria has ever seen
The Victoria Royals came out of the gates flying this season, scoring 31 goals in their first 5 games. No, they didn’t maintain a 6-goal-per-game pace, but this offense is as deep, dazzling, and as entertaining as it gets.
They did manage to score 287 goals on the season – the most in franchise history. That put the Royals at a sizzling rate of 3.98 goals per game.
Matthew Phillips scored 48 goals and 112 points in a historic season; Tyler Soy sniped 36 goals and 92 points, Dante Hannoun scored 25 goals and 79 points, while Noah Gregor and Tanner Kaspick have both hovered at a point per game rate since becoming Royals.
Safe to say, the Royals are looking primed to do some damage.
4 – The Vancouver Giants are back!
In the six most recent playoff appearances the Royals have made, the Vancouver Giants have only qualified once, making the Victoria-Vancouver rivalry purely a geographical one.
Perhaps no longer.
After facing each other 10 times in each of the past 7 regular seasons, the Victoria-Vancouver match up finally gets its dose of playoff intensity.
Watch the Royals’ dynamic duo of Matthew Phillips and Tyler Soy go head-to-head against the Giants’ deadly combination of Ty Ronning and Tyler Benson.
5 – There’s nothing like playoff hockey
The buzz in an arena during the playoffs is unlike any other hockey you’ve watched.
The pulse of the crowd is easily detected with every movement of the puck, every shot on target is a chance to score a crucial goal, and each penalty kill feels like those four players have the entire audience willing them to a successful kill.
There is indeed nothing quite like it. And if you haven’t seen a Royals playoff game, this is the year to do it.
We’ll see you there!
#yyj – It is not too late to reserve your seat for every playoff game! Place your $75 per seat deposit today by calling 250-220-7889 or visiting https://t.co/f3ZMm90jnf #OneGoal #VICvsVAN #WHLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/aw55t3Qgis
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) March 21, 2018
Victoria Royals vs. Vancouver Giants round one schedule:
- Friday, March 23rd – Vancouver @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m.
- Saturday, March 24th – Vancouver @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 27th – Victoria @ Vancouver – 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday, March 29th – Victoria @ Vancouver – 7:00 p.m. (Televised on Sportsnet)
- Saturday, March 31st – Vancouver @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
- Monday, April 2nd – Victoria @ Vancouver – 2:00 p.m. (if necessary)
- Tuesday, April 3rd – Vancouver @ Victoria – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Royals’ 2018 Playoff Ticket Packages are also available. A $75 per-seat deposit not only locks in your favourite seat location at all home playoff games, it also provides a discount off standard ticket rates.