For the fourth time in 7 years, the Victoria Royals have advanced to the second round of the WHL playoffs, facing the Tri-City Americans in a best-of-seven series.
The injury riddled Royals kept the Vancouver Giants at bay in the first round, edging them 4-3 in a tense game 7 at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Now the Royals are onto the Americans, who despite finishing in the top wild card spot due to a strong U.S. Division, actually finished with one more point than the Royals on the season.
To top it off, Tri-City easily dispatched the Kelowna Rockets in four games, who won the B.C. Division title.
Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the Royals’ upcoming opponents!
Royals will have to shut down Tri-City’s top end NHL-drafted talent
The most apparent aspect of the Americans is boasting a lineup with high NHL draft picks.
Michael Rasmussen is a massive, 6’6 centerman that will keep the Royals’ hands full. The power forward put up 31 goals in 47 regular season games, but perhaps more importantly, amassed 5 goals and 12 points in Tri-City’s sweep of the Kelowna Rockets. The Surrey native was selected 9th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2017, and will no doubt be a big part of Royals’ head coach Dan Price’s defensive plan.
Defenseman Jusso Valimaki is the Americans’ other 2017 first rounder, selected 16th by the Calgary Flames. The Finnish defender isn’t flashy, but defends well and possesses a sound all-around game. It is probable he will end up matching up against Matthew Phillips – a possible future NHL teammate.
Morgan Geekie, meanwhile, is the less touted of these three players, but the fact he wasn’t a first round pick shouldn’t fool you. The 6’2″ centerman was selected in the 3rd round in the 2017 NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, and he led the team in scoring during the regular season with 84 points (30g, 54a) through 68 games. More impressively, however, is the fact he currently leads in the WHL in playoff goals, somehow scoring 9 goals in just 4 games.
Vancouver Island hockey well represented on Tri-City
Head over to the Tri-City stats page and you’ll quickly find two Vancouver Islanders near the top of the list.
Winger Jordan Topping, from Salt Spring Island, and defenseman Dylan Coghlan, from Nanaimo, finished 2nd and 3rd in regular season scoring for the Americans, representing the island proudly.
Topping led the team in goals with 38, and finished with 80 points on the season. Coghlan, meanwhile, posted an impressive 63 points from the blueline, including 17 goals, and was signed to a contract by the Vegas Golden Knights in September 2017.
Victoria fans will have the delicate task of supporting local hockey talent, while making it absolutely clear that we hope the Royals completely demolish the Americans.
Here is the series breakdown!
Victoria Royals vs. Tri-City Americans Series breakdown
All statistics are based on the playoffs unless stated otherwise.
- Regular season ranking: 2nd in B.C. Division, 84 points
- Regular season head-to-head: 2-1-1-0
- Last series: 4-3 series victory over Vancouver Giants
- Goals per game: 3.57
- Goals against per game: 3.57
- Power play: 8/31, 25.8%
- Penalty kill: 16/18, 88.9%
- Goal leaders: Matthew Phillips (6), Noah Gregor (4), Tyler Soy (3)
- Assist leaders: Matthew Phillips (10), Dante Hannoun (9), Noah Gregor (6)
- Points leaders: Matthew Phillips (16), Dante Hannoun (12), Noah Gregor (10)
- Regular season ranking: 4th in U.S. Division, 85 points
- Regular season head-to-head: 2-2-0-0
- Last series: 4-0 series victory over Kelowna Rockets
- Goals per game: 6.0
- Goals against per game: 3.25
- Power play: 7/13, 53.8%
- Penalty kill: 9/13, 69.2%
- Goal leaders: Morgan Geekie (9), Michael Rasmussen (5), Nolan Yaremko (4)
- Assist leaders: Michael Rasmussen (7), Dylan Coghlan (5), Jordan Topping (5)
- Points leaders: Morgan Geekie (13), Michael Rasmussen (12), Isaac Johnson (8)
- Where: Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard Street
- When: Friday, April 6th
- Puck drop: 7:05pm
- Tickets: Here.