The Victoria Royals will play their first game to a sold out crowd at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (SOFMC) since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last time the SOFMC sold out was in February of 2019 for their ‘Pink in the Rink’ game.
Anticipation and excitement are at an all time high for the Royals despite being in last place in the western conference in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with a record of 3-16-3-0.
On Saturday, November 26th, the Regina Pats who have a record of 9-11-0-0 will be coming to Victoria to take on the Royals for the first time since before the pandemic and before any of the current Royals were old enough to be in the roster.
Connor Bedard, a player for the Pats is the reason the SOFMC sold out two weeks i advance for the upcoming game.
Bedard is widely considered to be one of the best players in the game currently and it is all but guaranteed he will be drafted into the NHL for the 2023-24 season.
He scored 50 goals as a 16-year-old last season and to date, Bedard has 48 points in 22 games of the 2022-23 season so far.
When Victoria Royals Head Coach and General Manager, Dan Price was asked if he and the team were feeling a bit of pressure leading up to the sold out game, he said, “zero pressure.”
“It’s just been excitement and opportunity,” Price told Victoria Buzz. “This is why we do this.”
“Everyone likes to compete, everyone loves the energy of the crowd, the energy of the game, a challenging opponent and I’m sure Regina feels the same way.”
The Victoria Royals could be going into this game with 10 key players injured or temporarily off their roster.
“In that last game we were missing about 10 players,” said Price.
“A lot of those players are day-to-day and being assessed this week to see what their timelines will be for return to play.”
“We’re hopeful that players like Schuurman and Almquist as examples might be able to make their returns this weekend which would really help bolster the lineup that’s been missing a lot of players recently.”
Team captain, Gannon Laroque, is still out with an injury as well. Price said he is skating again but is at least a couple weeks away from playing.
In their last game on November 19th the intensity of the matchup with the Prince George Cougars spilled over with only a few minutes left in the game and Alex Edwards was given a one game suspension.
“Edwards had been in a scrum with Eastman from Prince George and eventually Kmec which had been boiling up all game,” said Price.
This week, the game against the Pats is the Royals only game so they have a bit of extra time to make preparations to take on Connor Bedard and his squad.
“We’ve been doing some pre-scouting, getting a sense of what systems Regina is likely to use,” Price told Victoria Buzz.
“We’re trying to build the energy so that we’re peaking for Saturday night, since we have no mid-week games and no Friday game.”
“It allows us to change the content and the structure of the training phase.”
The game is also one of the Victoria Royals highly anticipated theme nights. It’s ‘kids take over’ night at the SOFMC.
Kids have been hired to help out and learn from some of the staff. They will be helping out with announcing during the game, coaching, handling the rambunctious Marty the Marmot as well as singing the national anthem and hosting activities and games throughout the night.
Doors are opening early for the ‘kids to take over’ night at 3:30 p.m. so kids and their parents can check out the fun. Games and activities will be happening in the concourse and a local band, the Pickups will be playing a show.
There will also be a magician, cotton candy, a balloon artist, hot chocolate and a beer garden for the parents.
Tickets for the game are sold out but for those who want to attend the fun and games, if weather permits much of the activities for the ‘kids take over’ night will be outdoors and they are more than welcome to attend.
‘Kids take over’ Royals game versus the Regina Pats
- Where: Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard Street
- When: Saturday, November 26th. Doors at 3:30, puck drop at 6:05