The only thing to match the recent South Island rain drought has been the dearth of Victoria Royals goals. The Royals were shutout for the second consecutive game in losing 3-0 Wednesday night before 3,485 fans in Kelowna against the Rockets.
Victoria has scored only once in its past three games, including a 4-1 loss against the Vancouver Giants and 4-0 blanking at the hands of the Everett Silvertips. The other Victoria drought is in the win column as the Royals, the only team without a point in the Western Hockey League, tumbled to their fifth consecutive loss to begin the season.
Marcus Pacheco, on the power play, Caden Price and Adam Kydd scored for the Rockets. Jari Kykkanen made 20 saves for the clean sheet. Tyler Palmer made 26 saves in goal for Victoria.
The Royals managed only one missive on goal in being outshot 12-1 in the second period but Victoria outshot Kelowna 12-3 in the third period.
“I feel for our players. They really went for it in the third period,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.
“I take it personally as a coach. We were either missing the net or over-passing. We have to simplify our game, and that is my responsibility as a coach. We are overcomplicating things and that comes back to my job as a coach.”
Kelowna was missing Colton Dach, in the NHL training camp of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Talyn Boyko, in the AHL camp of the Rangers-affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.
Victoria is without its two best players. Forward Brayden Schuurman was hurt in the NHL rookie camp of the Boston Bruins and Victoria captain Gannon Laroque, signed to an NHL entry-level contract by the San Jose Sharks, is also out with injury. Schuurman is back skating but unlikely to play when the Royals visit Kamloops on Friday and Saturday to play the Canadian Hockey League fifth-ranked Blazers. Price said there is no clear timeline on Laroque. Returning Wednesday in Kelowna from injury were Royals blue-liner Luke Shipley and forwards Matthew Hodson and Danish-import Marcus Almquist. Also in the Victoria lineup was forward Jake Poole, playing against his former club, after being acquired in a trade from the Rockets on Tuesday.
The next Royals home games at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre are Oct. 11-12 against the Rockets.
ICE CHIPS: Rockets assistant captain Pavel Novak had a bigger victory than anything merely on the ice. The Minnesota Wild-signed Czech forward released a statement Wednesday reading: “After a few months of troubles, I’m happy to share with you that I beat the cancer. There is no better feeling than to be healthy again.”