Insider information is always an advantage. Defenceman Olen Zellweger and forward Ryan Hofer know a lot about goaltender Braden Holt from their years together with the Everett Silvertips before the three were traded this season. You have to assume Zellweger and Hofer unloaded everything they know about Holt in the Kamloops Blazers dressing room before Friday night’s game against the Victoria Royals.
Whether that had anything to do with it or not, the Blazers launched a withering opening-period attack in touching Royals starter Holt four times in the first 20 minutes to build a 4-1 lead en route to a 7-4 Western Hockey League victory before 4,252 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
Holt, who has been solid for Victoria after coming from Everett, stood his ground in the final two periods as Kamloops outshot the Royals 46-30.
The sturdy yet flash-quick Logan Stankoven, like Zellweger a two-time world junior championship gold medallist for Canada, extended his Blazers scoring streak to 28 games with short-handed and empty-net goals plus an assist on a three-point night. Caedan Bankier, another Canadian world junior championship gold medallist, also scored for Kamloops. The Blazers are hosting the 2023 Memorial Cup this spring and sacrificed four WHL prospects draft first-round picks from this year through 2026 to acquire Zellweger and Hofer from Everett. Zellweger had three assists Friday and Hofer an assist. Matthew Seminoff led Kamloops with two goals on a four-point night. Fraser Minten also scored twice for the Blazers, who boast eight NHL draft picks.
Royals goals came from Teydon Trembecky, Riley Gannon, Alex Edwards and Robin Sapousek, the latter a Czech forward who lost to Zellweger, Stankoven, Bankier and Canada in the 2023 world junior championship gold-medal game in Halifax.
Kamloops’ league-best power play was a factor in going 2-5. Victoria went 1-3.
The lowly Royals (13-28-5) were chasing the game all night against the loaded-up Blazers (27-9-6). It didn’t help that the Royals continued their trend of being historically one of the most injury-wracked teams in the WHL. Forward Carter Dereniwsky, who was a second-round WHL prospects draft pick, returned following a lengthy absence. But still out was Victoria captain and NHL San Jose Sharks-signed defenceman Gannon Laroque, Canada U-18 forward Brayden Schuurman and blueliner and former top-10 first-round WHL draft pick Austin Zemlak.
The Royals and Blazers meet again Saturday night at the Memorial Centre.