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Royals hope third time is a charm against Cougars

The Victoria Royals talked about a “Return of the Roar” when they heard Provincial Health Officer Dr.

The Victoria Royals talked about a “Return of the Roar” when they heard Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce Tuesday that indoor sports arenas in the Lower ­Mainland and Vancouver Island could once again have full capacity for events starting on Monday.

But tonight, the Royals are just hoping for a return to the win column.

After dropping two games to the Cougars in Prince George last weekend, the Royals take their 1-6 record into tonight’s rematch against the Cougars (2-3) at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

The Memorial Centre will again be capped at 50 per cent capacity (3,500) for tonight’s and Saturday’s games against the Cougars, and it will be a little while longer before the Royals open the arena up to full capacity (7,006) as Victoria’s next home game isn’t until Nov. 5 when the B.C. Division-leading Kamloops Blazers come to the Island.

“We were happy to hear that we can go back to having our regular attendance, it’s exciting having the fans in the building and makes for a great ­atmosphere,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.

But on to more pressing ­matters. This weekend is the third and fourth of six consecutive games against the Cougars, courtesy the closure of the land border between Canada and the U.S. to non-essential travel, which meant no games against the WHL’s U.S.-based teams (that will change in ­mid-November).

The Cougars won a pair of close ones at the CN Centre last weekend against a depleted ­Royals squad that was missing eight players due to injury. But help is on the way for ­Victoria. Newly acquired blue-liner ­Neithan Salame is now healthy, as is ­forward Carter Briltz.

“Having Neithan in there and Carter back will certainly be a plus for us,” said Price.

“Getting guys back is key for us and those guys bring experience to the lineup as well.”

If the Royals are to put an end to their losing skid, Price says their special teams must improve. Victoria went 1-for-10 with the man-advantage in last Sunday’s 4-2 loss up north.

“Our penalty killing was OK, but our power play had numerous opportunities in the second game and didn’t execute so we’ve practised that this week and just have to be a little more focused and pay attention to detail and we should be OK.”

Following this weekend’s games, the Royals will return to Prince George for games Tuesday and Wednesday, before heading south for games in ­Kamloops next Friday and Kelowna next Saturday.

LOOSE PUCKS: The Royals made a trade Thursday to add a veteran goaltender. Victoria acquired 19-year-old netminder Campbell Arnold from the Spokane Chiefs, with a third-round pick in the 2023 WHL draft going the other way. Arnold has played in 36 games for the Chiefs, recording a 3.26 GAA and 0.887 save percentage. … Royals centre Brayden Schuurman made the Players to Watch list this week as NHL Central Scouting released its initial rankings for the 2022 NHL draft. Schuurman, who leads the Royals in scoring with eight points in seven games, was given a ‘C’ (Rounds 5-7) rating. Projected No. 1 overall pick Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, and Conor Geekie and Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice, are among the ‘A’ listed players.

bdrewry@timescolonist.com