The Victoria Royals, the only team in the Western Hockey League without a point in the standings, tumbled to their fourth consecutive defeat to start the season in a 4-0 road loss Sunday to the Everett Silvertips before 4,139 fans at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“The guys are still super confident,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.
The goals, however, have dried up as the Victoria offence produced only one over the weekend, including in the 4-1 loss Friday in Langley against the Vancouver Giants.
It’s not for lack of chances, said Price: “We had quality opportunities in Everett with two-on-ones and pucks around the net in the first period but the puck just wouldn’t go in and Braden Holt played very well [in recording the 28-save shutout for the Silvertips].”
The Royal are in dire need of something happening to ignite the season. This is not a rebuilding year. This is a veteran group that was supposedly ready to pop after suffering through two losing seasons, finishing last in the league in the 2020 bubble season and missing the playoffs last season.
“It’s a matter of staying calm and relaxed, and converting our chances, and making sure we are not gripping our sticks too tight,” said Price, of the recent offensive woes.
Tyler Palmer made 39 saves to keep Victoria in the game at Everett. Twenty-year-old forward Jackson Berezowski, who had 46 goals last season, scored twice for Everett (3-0).
The Royals could not take advantage of a break with Silvertips star Olen Zellweger, last season’s WHL top defenceman and 2022 world junior champion with Canada, still not in the Everett lineup Sunday after being reassigned from the NHL training camp of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Royals could point to their own depleted roster. Victoria is missing its two best players. Forward Brayden Schuurman was hurt in the rookie camp of the Boston Bruins and Victoria captain Gannon Laroque, signed to an entry-level contract by the San Jose Sharks, is also out with injury. Schuurman is back skating but unlikely to play this week when the Royals visit Kelowna on Wednesday to meet the Rockets and are in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday to play the Blazers. Price said there is no clear timeline on Laroque. Expected back Wednesday in Kelowna from injury are blue-liner Luke Shipley and forwards Matthew Hodson and Danish-import Marcus Almquist.
The next Royals home games at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre are Oct. 11-12 against the Rockets.