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Alberta calls as Royals' road schedule announced

Character in team sports is forged in large part on the road. The Victoria Royals first away game will be Sept. 30 at the Langley Events Centre against a familiar foe in the cross-strait rivalry against the Vancouver Giants.
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Character in team sports is forged in large part on the road.

The Victoria Royals first away game will be Sept. 30 at the Langley Events Centre against a familiar foe in the cross-strait rivalry against the Vancouver Giants. It will be the first of a five-game swing that will include stops in Everett, Kelowna and twice in Kamloops to Oct. 8

The Western Hockey League released the teams’ road schedules Tuesday. The teams’ home schedules were announced last month, with the Royals to open the 2022-23 season Sept. 23-24 against the Spokane Chiefs at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in a reprise of the critical 2021-22 season finale in which the Chiefs denied the Royals a playoff berth. The home highlight is a Nov. 26 date at the Memorial Centre against the Regina Pats and consensus 2023 NHL No. 1 draft pick Connor Bedard.

Now that Royals GM and head coach Dan Price knows the entire WHL schedule for his team, he said: “There is good balance with good recovery time built in. But there is also game density, which is an important thing to learn for those players going on to pro hockey.”

The Royals will play Eastern Conference teams for the first time since 2019-20 before the pandemic wreaked scheduling havoc. The Eastern Conference East Division teams are set to come through the Memorial Centre this season with the Brandon Wheat Kings on Oct. 15, Winnipeg Ice on Oct. 18, Bedard and the Pats on Nov. 26, Moose Jaw Warriors on Nov. 29, Prince Albert Raiders on Jan. 31 and Saskatoon Blades on Feb. 17.

The Royals will also play the Eastern Conference Central Division teams once each this season, but all on the road. That trip begins Oct. 26 in Red Deer and continues Oct. 28 in Swift Current, Oct. 29 in Medicine Hat, Nov. 1 in Lethbridge, Nov. 2 in Calgary and Nov. 4 in Edmonton.

“We have lots of players from Alberta, so that will be a chance for those guys to play in front of family and friends,” said Price, who also hails from Alberta.

“And we get to end it off in NHL rinks in Calgary and Edmonton against the Hitmen and Oil Kings.”

The pre-pandemic traditional final home-and home set against the Silvertips will conclude the 68-game regular season for the Royals with the game in Everett on March 24 and the return match March 25 at the Memorial Centre.

Victoria will also play four preseason games, but none at home. The Royals begin the exhibition season Sept. 10 against the Prince George Cougars at Jon Baillie Arena in Port Coquitlam and continue Sept. 11 against the Vancouver Giants at the LEC, Sept. 13 against the Rockets at Prospera Place in Kelowna and conclude the exhibition season Sept. 14 at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops against the Blazers.

ICE CHIPS: Royals captain Gannon Laroque, a defenceman signed to an NHL entry-level contract by the San Jose Sharks, will miss the Canada junior team summer selection camp due to injury. “It’s a nagging thing,” said Price. Laroque can still make the national team for the 2023 world junior championship in Halifax, N.S. and Moncton, N.B., based on his performance in league play in the fall and the final selection camp in December.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com