The Victoria Royals continued to spiral, falling to 2-5-4 in their last 11 games, following a 4-1 Western Hockey League loss to the Cougars before 2,866 fans on Friday night at the CN Centre in Prince George.
Injuries continue to affect the Royals with 2024 NHL draft ranked defenceman Nate Misskey, fellow rearguards Austin Zemlak and Hudson Bjornson and two time-Czech world junior championship medallist Robin Sapousek all out.
As an NHL veteran, Royals head coach James Patrick isn’t about to use that as an excuse, but it is taking a toll on the Royals (25-19-8).
“Every team has injuries and goes through injuries and has to deal with them. We’ve gotten used to it,” Patrick said, of his team’s recent stretch.
“To get out of what we’re going through, we’re going to have to play squeaky clean games. Our execution is not what it needs to be to win games.”
There are opportunities here for players.
“Different guys have had to step up,” said Patrick.
He cited Norwegian world junior player Casper Evensen Haugen and forward-turned-blue-liner Dawson Pasternak as two Royals players who he feels have raised their games: “Casper Haugen has bumped up and played well. Dawson Pasternak has moved to the back end and been really good for us in such a different role but he has embraced it. We need someone to step up and do something out of character.”
It’s not that Prince George (34-15-2), ranked No. 7 in the Canadian Hockey League top-10 poll, hasn’t experienced a significant loss of its own with Los Angeles Kings NHL third-round draft pick Koehn Ziemmer out long term.
Prince George got goals Friday from Hunter Laing, Matteo Danis, Ephram McNutt and Ondrej Becher. Deegan Kinniburgh replied for Victoria.
The Cougars unloaded 36 shots on Royals rookie goaltender Jayden Kraus. Victoria got 20 shots on Prince George goalie Joshua Ravensbergen.
The Cougars and Royals meet again tonight at the CN Centre before Victoria returns to Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre to meet the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday and the Kelowna Rockets next Friday and Saturday.