“If we have the lead [tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds], I hope the lights don’t go out,” he said.
But it’s the Thunderbirds who have the most to fear about the lights dimming on their Western Hockey League season, as they lead the Prince George Cougars by four points in the race for the eighth-and-final playoff slot in the Western Conference.
The two-game set tonight and Wednesday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre will have ramifications for the Thunderbirds and Royals, although for varying reasons.
The Royals are firmly entrenched in sixth place, 13 points clear of seventh-place Everett with three games in hand on the Silvertips. Looking the other direction up the table, Victoria is two points behind fifth-place Spokane with a game in hand on the Chiefs and five points behind fourth-place Tri-City with two games in hand on the Americans.
“We’re not looking at the teams behind us. We’re looking at the teams in front of us,” said Lowry.
Not that the Royals can afford to take the Thunderbirds for granted.
“We don’t take them lightly,” said Lowry.
“They are a playoff position team with very dangerous and skilled forwards.”
Royals rookie Jack Walker, a 16-year-old American, comes into the Thunderbird set having been baptized into an aspect of Canadian major-junior hockey with his first career fight in Saturday’s 2-1 shootout victory in Prince George over the Cougars.
“It happened real fast,” he said, of the tilt against Jake Mykitiuk.
Not that this is expected to become a regular aspect of five-foot-nine Walker’s game. The slightly-built, puck-moving player has been a valuable first-year contributor, able to move up from his natural blueline position to fill injury gaps at forward for much of the season.
“Good for Jack,” said Lowry, of the rookie’s maiden excursion into the realm of fisticuffs.
“Jack can look after himself.”
Walker is hoping tonight goes better for the Royals than the team he was rooting for in the Super Bowl.
“I was going for the 49ers because [receiver] Randy Moss is an old Viking,” said the native of Edina, Minnesota.
But ex-Vikes Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk won Super Bowl rings Sunday with the Ravens, so it evened out.
Things Minnesota are not inconsequential issues on a Royals team with three players from that state on the roster. But coming from Minnesota high school hockey to major junior is a jump in terms of sheer volume of games played.
“I’m playing three times as many games as I did back home,” said Walker, of the WHL. “That’s been one of the hardest parts. There are a lot of ice baths after practice.”
After the Seattle home set, the Royals are on the road again starting Friday in Tri-city for six games over 11 days through eastern Washington, the Kootenays and Alberta.
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