The Victoria Royals lost to the KLH Chomutov Under-20s without a puck being fired.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has dealt the Royals a boardroom setback, and with it the loss of their 2013 import draft pick Jiri Fronk.
The IIHF has ruled Fronk’s contract with Czech club KLH Chomutov is valid and the Royals have no claims to him despite selecting the 19-year-old forward 31st over the summer in the annual draft of European juniors conducted by the Canadian Hockey League.
“It was a reasoned written decision. That’s that,” said Victoria GM Cam Hope.
“It’s obviously disappointing but there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to respect the process because we rely on it both ways.”
Each North American major junior team is allowed two European imports on the roster. This leaves the Royals with only goaltender Patrik Polivka, also from the Czech Republic, with the other spot open. Making a trade to fill their suddenly-open second European spot — as the Royals did last season in acquiring eventual 2012-13 team MVP Alex Gogolev of Russia from the Calgary Hitmen — is an option. But Hope said that depends on availability and circumstance.
The graduated Gogolev, now skating as a pro in a KHL training camp, was acquired after Royals 2012 European draft pick Rasmus Bengtsson, a Swedish junior national team blue-liner and second-round NHL draft pick of the Florida Panthers, decided to play in the Junior A USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Right now, the Royals are preparing on forging ahead with their current second Euro roster slot vacant.
“This shifts our depth chart and gives someone else [in training camp] a chance,” said Hope.
The six-foot-four Fronk had 10 goals and 24 points in 40 games last season for the KLH Chomutov U-20s. But he became a hotter commodity with a breakout summer on the Czech junior national team with six goals in eight games, causing KLH Chomutov to become more adamant about keeping him.
There’s only so much due diligence that can be done long-distance before the European draft, which can be a real crapshoot.
“We do as much homework as we can but you can only do so much from so far away. You have to rely on the players’ representatives,” said Hope.
“Every once in a while, there’s a glitch and these things pop up. That’s one of the risks of the European draft.”
The Royals conclude their WHL pre-season with games against the Vancouver Giants on Saturday afternoon at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre and Sunday afternoon in Ladner.
LOOSE PUCKS: Tickets for Saturday’s pre-season game (1:30 p.m.) are $5 … The Royals will be hosting their annual season ticket pick-up night on Tuesday. Season ticket holders can come to the Memorial Centre between 6 and 8 p.m. to relieve their tickets and enjoy complimentary appetizers and beverages.
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