Outside, it was what passes in Victoria for a Snowmageddon. Inside Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Tuesday, the smattering of fans who braved the night were warmed by the continuing fire being generated by the Victoria Royals.
The Royals defeated the Kelly Buchberger-coached Tri-City Americans 3-1 to move to 7-1-1 in the past nine Western Hockey League games.
Victoria starter Shane Farkas, the WHL goaltender-of-the-week, continued his torrid pace and has allowed just four goals in his last six games. He was only denied his third shutout in that stretch on a Tri-City goal by AHL-signed two-time Czech world junior player Krystof Hrabik with 19 seconds remaining in the game.
The wonderfully fluid 2019 NHL first-round draft pick Brayden Tracey had a goal and an assist for Victoria to push his totals to two goals and two assists in the three games since being acquired last week from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Defenceman Matthew Smith also scored for the Royals (24-13-3) on a screened point shot on a two-point night. Brandon Cutler ripped a shot to the top corner for the other Royals goal.
One of the smallest turnouts in franchise history, about 1,000 people actually in the Memorial Centre seats despite the officially listed 2,519, watched a smothering Royals performance.
The turnout was reminiscent of the night in 2017, during another rare Island snow event, when about 800 people showed up to watch future-NHLer Mathew Barzal’s final appearance at the Memorial Centre in Seattle Thunderbirds colours.
For the several Prairie guys on the Royals it was just a regular winter Tuesday back home. Prairie boys Tracey, Smith, Brandon Cutler, Gary Haden, Carson Miller, Ty Yoder, Jacob Herauf, Noah Lamb and Tarun Fizer might have been amused that this week counts as a Snowpocalypse on the West Coast. Not to mention Royals rookie Keanu Derungs from Switzerland.
But it does count as that, even if the sub-freezing temperatures are modest by the standards in the rest of Canada.
Whether snow blankets Blanshard, or the regular rains and mild temps return, the Royals and Americans (14-20-5) meet again tonight at the Memorial Centre.
ICE CHIPS: Royals captain and Danish international Phillip Schultz returned to the lineup after missing five games to injury while fellow-forward Fizer remained out. . . . Blue-liner Ty Ettinger, acquired last week, made his Royals debut after splitting this season between the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and two Alberta Junior Hockey League teams. . . . The Americans feature a couple of young Island forwards in 17-year-old John Little of Parksville and 16-year-old Parker Bell of Campbell River . . . Games against Tri-City used to be special for Royals defenceman Will Warm when brother Beck Warm played in goal for the Americans. But Beck Warm was traded to Will Warm’s old club, the Edmonton Oil Kings, last month.