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Norwegian import Evensen comes into his own with Royals

Norwegian import’s more impactful play comes after he returned from world junior championship
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Victoria Royals forward Casper Haugen Evensen in action against the Kelowna Rockets on Friday. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Norway, unlike it’s Nordic neighbours Sweden and Finland, isn’t known for hockey. But the Victoria Royals have found the exception to the rule in Casper Haugen Evensen, who represented Norway in the 2024 world junior championship tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden, and whose mom, aunt and grandparents all played the sport.

And it is Evensen as the last name, despite that Haugen has been on the back of the jersey and the two names are often mistakenly interspersed. No matter what you call him, Evensen has been a revelation through the recent bad patch the Royals have gone through. Victoria head coach James Patrick pointed to Evensen and Dawson Pasternak as his two best players during the recent stretch.

“Two months ago, I had [Evensen] on the fourth line and now he’s centring the top line,” said Patrick.

“He is forechecking with a purpose and getting in battles. He doesn’t win them all but at least he is engaged in them. If he can do it, others can do it. If he can learn to get better, and there is progress with him, there can be progress with more guys.”

Evensen’s more impactful play comes after he returned from the world juniors. He learned a lot, but losing to Germany in the relegation game still stings.

“It was fun to be there to play with my friends on our national junior team in front of my family. And playing at that high speed, against a lot of good players, has really helped my play back here in Victoria,” said Evensen. “But the relegation-game loss to Germany was devastating because it would have been so much fun to play in the 2025 world juniors in Ottawa next year. Hopefully, we get back up there soon. We are working on Norway being on that hockey main stage more regularly.”

Each WHL team is allowed two European players and Evensen was chosen ninth overall by the Royals in the 2023 Canadian Hockey League import draft. Evensen is five-foot-seven but sturdy at 170 pounds with a low centre of gravity. He has managed to leverage that in a big man’s game.

“I try to be strong on the puck and battle. I have to do that because I don’t have a lot otherwise [in terms of size] to play with,” he said

About his season in Victoria, Evensen said: “It’s amazing. It’s fun to play here with these fans. I am enjoying being here.”

He has played his part as the Royals amassed enough points early in the season and appear headed to their first playoff appearance in four years

“It takes every guy,” said Evensen. “We have to play hard and do every little thing right. We’re trying to have a good mood.”

ON THE ICE: Rookie Cole Reschny scored short-handed late in the third period on Saturday night to give the Royals a 3-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets at the Memorial Centre. Reggie Newman scored twice for Victoria while Evensen added an assist.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com