Forward Tyler Soy quipped that he’s feeling a touch nervous about returning to the Victoria Royals tonight: “I don’t want to mess anything up.”
Far from it.
With the Royals 5-0 in the Western Hockey League, people are beginning to ask how good this team can be with the addition now of 20-year-olds Soy and Chaz Reddekopp from NHL camps.
“The guys are 5-0 without us, and that’s awesome, and we don’t want to be a distraction,” said Reddekopp, a signed Los Angeles Kings blue-liner.
“It’s exciting to be back. This is a special group that has moulded quickly.”
Soy, a centre in his fifth season with Victoria, was drafted by Anaheim but is unsigned by the Ducks.
“Chaz and I just want to add to the mix and make this [Royals] team better,” he said.
Their presence alone automatically does that.
Soy, slinky and sly around the crease, scored 46 goals for the Royals in 2015-16 but was limited to 25 goals in 44 games in his injury-riddled 2016-17 campaign. The Cloverdale native’s pro camp experience could see him have an explosive over-age season in the WHL.
“I’ve learned to play a stronger, heavier game by playing against men, as opposed to playing against 16 year olds,” Soy said.
“I thought I played well in Anaheim [NHL] camp and also had a decent [AHL] camp in San Diego, but it’s tough because they have so many guys.”
Reddekopp also touched on the difference between junior and the pros: “You have to be on every day because you are up against guys who are playing for their jobs and playing for their livelihoods. If you have a couple of off days, it makes it easier for the team to [send you back down].”
West Kelowna-native Reddekopp was hindered by an inopportune case of strep throat, which kept him in bed rest for four days, and which made his time in the AHL camp of the Kings-affiliate Ontario Reign pretty much a washout.
“It was unfortunate, but the antibiotics have made me better,” Reddekopp said.
Soy is expected to make his Royals debut tonight in Kamloops against the winless Blazers (0-6), while Reddekopp’s condition, although improving, will make him a game-time decision.
“I will take the morning skate and then see how I feel,” said the six-foot-four, 222-pound, fifth-year Royals defender.
ICE CHIPS: The WHL board of governors voted to reduce the number of regular-season games to 68, beginning in the 2018-19 season, citing more time for skill development and academics. The WHL has played 72 regular-season games since 1975-76. Eliminating four games puts the WHL in line with the OHL and QMJHL, which both play 68-game schedules. . . . Dante Hannoun of the Royals leads the WHL with seven goals, as do teammates Matthew Phillips with 13 points and Ryan Peckford with six power-play goals.