Saturday, June 15, 2024

Fans will be able to skate with Victoria Royals this Sunday after the game

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The Victoria Royals are back home this weekend after splitting last weekend’s matchups against the Kamloops Blazers.

The Royals will host the Vancouver Giants in a Saturday-Sunday set, with Saturday’s puck drop scheduled for 6:05 p.m., while Sunday’s matinee will start at 3:05 p.m.—the two teams will also play the night before in Langley.

Saturday night’s game a at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre is Tech and E-Sports Night, featuring live tech demos at gate one and an NHL 24 challenge at the Comfort Lounge.

While both games promise excitement, Sunday’s matchup will have a little extra flair with plenty of promotions throughout the game.

As part of the festivities, every entrance ticket purchased on Sunday will serve as an entry into a draw to win a $5,000 donation to a Minor Hockey Association of their choice, and the Royals will also be launching the Victoria Royals Foundation Hockey Grant Applications.

The greater the representation of one’s MHA at the game, the better the chances of winning—so be sure to attend with your team! Also, make sure to check out the full details on the Victoria Royals website for more information.

Following the game on Sunday, fans will have the opportunity to skate with the Royals, so make sure you bring your skates and helmet—skates will be available to rent.

Vancouver comes to town with a trio of prospects belonging to NHL clubs, including former Flames first-rounder (16th in 2023) Samuel Honzek and Jaden Lipinski, who was also drafted by the Flames.

They have also added Winnipeg Jets 7th-rounder Connor Levis at the trade deadline this year for some additional firepower.

The Giants are also home to two Victoria-born players: a 16-year-old, towering 6-foot-4 defenseman in Colton Alain and a gritty 19-year-old forward, Julian Cull.

After dominating the WHL in the 2000s, the Giants haven’t quite found that level of excellence since.

They did make one finals appearance in 2018-19, but otherwise have ranged from poor to middling. Sitting at 7th place in the Western Conference with an 18-24-2-0 record, that seems true today too.

However, these are still important games for Victoria, especially after going winless on their Saskatchewan/Manitoba road trip earlier this month. They have just three wins in their past 10 games and were humbled in a loss against the lowly Kamloops Blazers last weekend.

This weekend offers an opportunity to get their mojo back.

Patrick’s lineup decisions offer glimpse into future

The Victoria Royals have largely fielded the same top six forwards when healthy this season, featuring Robin Sapousek, Tanner Scott, Reggie Newman, Cole Reschny, Dawson Pasternak, and usually Ben Riche.

However, with Robin Sapousek injured, the Royals’ depth is being tested. Norwegian rookie Casper Evensen Haugen, in particular, appears to be getting more significant opportunities.

He played alongside Reschny and Pasternak in last weekend’s matches against the Blazers, providing insight into head coach James Patrick’s internal depth chart.

Haugen is a shifty, smaller player standing at five feet seven inches, with solid puck skills. As the Royals’ 9th overall selection in the 2023 Import Draft, he has been adjusting to the smaller North American ice surface as well as the physicality.

He maintained a point-per-game pace in Norway’s under-20 league last year as a 16-year-old and played 27 games across Norway’s two professional leagues, gaining experience against fully grown men.

In his first season as a Royal, he has performed solidly, primarily in the bottom six, tallying 7 goals and 13 points through 39 games so far. Zooming out, his development becomes crucial for the Royals and could significantly impact next year’s team.

Overaged top six forwards Dawson Pasternak (the team’s points leader) and Tyson Laventure won’t be returning next year, leaving at least two holes the Royals will need to fill.

Ideally, this issue is resolved internally, and if Haugen can grow into that role over the final stretch of this season, it would be significant.

Reggie Newman, Seth Fryer step into larger roles

Reggie Newman has been playing right wing on the top line for essentially the entirety of this season so far, so it was a bit odd to see him line up at center against the Blazers last weekend.

However, this opportunity will only benefit his development. Newman stands tall at six foot two and possesses the ideal size to play down the middle, although he may lack the ideal foot speed for the position.

While Tyson Laventure, acquired at the trade deadline, could have been a candidate for the top-line center spot, so far it’s Newman who’s getting the call, with Laventure lining up in Newman’s old right-wing spot.

Newman has been a key contributor to the Royals’ resurgence, offering grit and a soft set of hands to complement the team’s more skilled players.

At just 18 years old, he still has plenty of room for development, and the challenge of playing against the opponent’s best while manning the demanding center position and battling for a playoff spot is valuable, tough experience.

Meanwhile, Seth Fryer has made the leap into the top four, playing alongside Austin Zemlak on the second pair.

The 6-foot-7 Victoria-born defender has shown significant improvement this season, demonstrating moments with the puck that reveal his potential as a towering, play-stopping defenseman who can handle the puck.

He has displayed decent puck-handling skills for a big man, and the higher up in the lineup you play, the more important that becomes. You must be able to take care of the puck.

Overall, though, the Royals’ blue line has been excellent this year.

If Fryer continues to progress, next year’s blue line looks poised to be a showstopper. There is a wealth of potential in this group.

We hope to see you at both games this weekend, grab your tickets here.

Victoria Royals vs Vancouver Giants:

  • Where: 1925 Blanshard Street
  • When:
    • Saturday, January 27th – 6:05 p.m. puck drop
    • Sunday, January 28th – 3:05 p.m. puck drop
Jeremy Weeres
Jeremy Weeres
Victoria Royals and hockey writer at Victoria Buzz

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