Everything that went right, as the Victoria Royals opened the regular season 3-0 for the first time in the seven-year history of the Royals-Chilliwack Bruins franchise, went wrong Sunday afternoon at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
The Kamloops Blazers (3-0-1) showed why they are ranked No. 8 on the BMO Mastercard Canadian Hockey League top-10 poll with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over the Royals.
We strung seven wins together [including the last four games of the Western Hockey Leagues pre-season], and you cant win them all, said a philosophical Royals forward Brandon Magee.
We knew Kamloops would come out hard today [following Victorias 4-3 shootout victory Friday night against the Blazers that began the two-game WHL set]. Meanwhile, we were not moving our feet through the neutral zone. We wanted to go 4-0. But its one of those things. Well come back and learn from our mistakes.
Defenceman Brett Cote, in his quiet but effective way, has been among the best of the Royals in the early season. But the Victoria blue line did not have an answer for Kamloops speed and diligence in this matinee meeting as the Blazers scored once in each period through Brady Gaudet, Rob Trzonkowski and Colin Smith.
We didnt have our best game today, Cote said.
They outworked us and deserved to win. We have to come to the rink prepared and ready to work. Bad changes cost us.
Kamloops took three of a possible four points, and Victoria two points, in the weekend set. But there was an important point made by the Royals, Cote said.
Kamloops is one of the best teams in the CHL and we learned we can play with them, noted the six-foot native of Oakbank, Man.
The Blazers regular goaltender, Cole Cheveldave -- who missed Fridays game because he was day-to-day with an injury -- returned to make 22 saves Sunday for the shutout.
Victoria goaltender Jared Rathjen, making his first start of the regular season after Patrik Polivka played the first trey of games, was busy blocking 36 Kamloops shots.
They [Blazers] came in and played a good game, admitted Victoria head coach Dave Lowry.
Its exactly what we expected. We knew they would come at us hard. They didnt surprise us. We put ourselves in trouble by taking penalties.
Kamloops didnt score on its five power-play chances, but those penalties always seemed to come at junctures when Victoria needed to be building some kind of momentum.
They [Blazers] force turnovers. We have to learn how to do that, too, said Lowry.
The Victoria bench boss, however, put the situation in perspective.
Were disappointed we lost the game. But, if at the beginning of the season, you had said we would be 3-1 yeah, we would be happy.
ICE CHIPS: Victoria forward Steven Hodges, 2012 third-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, missed Sundays game and is day-to-day with a lower body injury The Royals play the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Centre before departing on a four-game road swing through Spokane, Tri City, Vancouver and Kamloops.
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