adidas deodorant Lightweights of the East have Royals’ attention
That will be followed by a 1,733 kilometre, 18 hour trek to Tsawwassen, and then the ferry ride to be back to the Island, as the back end of an overall two week, 6,123 kilometre trip through Washington state and four provinces.
So maybe the Royals can be cut a little slack in being unable to hold leads in 5 3 and 4 2 losses to the Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, respectively, in falling to 2 3 on the road swing.
Victoria catches a bit of a break in meeting the bottom two teams in the East Division to close out the epic journey. The Blades are last at 3 6 1 and the Raiders fifth at 4 4 3.
The Blades, an original WHL team, have missed the playoffs the past four seasons after going all in with a veteran loaded team to host the 2013 Memorial Cup.
The Raiders are also youthful and rebuilding and have missed the playoffs last season and two of the past three seasons. Yet, coached by former Royals bench boss Marc Habscheid, they seem to have more going for them at this point of their development.
But for a bit of puck luck in extra time, Prince Albert’s record might be dramatically better. The Raiders had lost three of their previous four games in overtime to Vancouver, Brandon and Regina before finally winning 4 3 in OT on a goal by undrafted Ottawa Senators signed forward Parker Kelly at home against Saskatoon on Saturday.
“This is a 19 and 20 year olds league and we don’t have many 19 year olds,” said Habscheid, of his young squad.
“We have a group that is still evolving but we’ve been holding our own. Victoria’s strength is on offence and they have some firepower, while our strength is defence and, hopefully, goaltending. So it will be a contrast of styles.”
Among the Raiders’ few older players is Kelly, who Habscheid compared to former Royals defenceman Joe Hicketts, as an undersized and undrafted player who still managed to earn an NHL entry level contract. Kelly did it with the Senators and Hicketts, now in the AHL, with the Red Wings.
“[Kelly] has a big heart and is fast and courageous,” said Habscheid.
The opposition crease will also provide for some interesting fodder in the back to back games. The Royals know Blades goaltender Ryan Kubic well from his days with the Vancouver Giants. On Wednesday, Victoria faces one of the best goalies in the league. Six foot three Ian Scott of the Raiders, selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, returned last weekend after being injured in the first game of the season.
Meanwhile, the Royals have been a league leader in trying to alleviate the impacts of the road on performance. It goes beyond the team’s well appointed sleeper bus, considered the gold standard conveyance in the WHL. Former Victoria head coach Dave Lowry was closely attuned to matters of rest and recovery, and rookie Royals bench boss Dan Price is no different.
“You try to create every advantage for yourself,” explained Price.
He looks to the best for guidance. “The [NBA champion] Golden State Warriors are the prime example of a team that works recovery into its schedule. The Warriors are pro active about it.”
So are the Royals at their own level.
“We take things like sleep and recovery seriously,” said Price.
The Royals’ rest and recovery protocol called for an abbreviated, 50 minute practice Monday in Saskatoon.
“The guys seemed fresh and energetic,” noted Price, about the final push against the Blades and Raiders.
To be followed by that asphalt chewing trip back to the coast ahead of the two game homestand Saturday and Sunday against the Vancouver Giants. edged Alberta 4 3 in overtime Sunday in the final to win the U 16 WHL Cup in Calgary. squad were forward Payton Mount, defenceman Ethan Brandwood, goaltender Dylan Garand, all of Victoria, and defenceman John Little of Parksville . . . Mount was taken in the WHL bantam draft by Seattle, Little by Vancouver and Brandwood and Garand both by Kamloops. . . . Royals prospect Ty Thorpe, selected by Victoria in the third round of the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored a goal and added an assist as Manitoba defeated Saskatchewan 4 2 in the bronze medal game.