The third-year plotline has changed from Dan Price’s first two seasons as head coach of the Victoria Royals, when his charges got off to 7-0 starts in successive years.
Those respective 14 points came in handy at the end, after the Royals had faded back to the pack.
The scenario is different this time as Victoria is 3-4-1 heading into this afternoon’s Western Hockey League game at the Langley Events Centre against the Vancouver Giants and No. 4 overall 2019 NHL draft pick Bowen Byram.
“I would much rather be peaking at the end of the season than starting 7-0,” Price said.
Another reversal point is the injury situation. It has historically come at playoff time for the Royals. This season, it happened right from the start.
“We’ve had a lot of guys out of the lineup so far, which is better than when it has usually happened to us at the end of the season,” Price said.
Also factoring in, Price said, is the high turnover rate experienced over the off-season.
“Twelve of our 24 players are new, including all three 20-year-olds,” he said.
The Giants were 6-6 heading into Saturday’s game against the Swift Current Broncos at the LEC. Being .500, however, must be considered underachieving for the 2019 WHL finalists, who came within a Prince Albert Game 7 overtime goal, by former Royal Dante Hannoun, from going to the Memorial Cup.
“We’ve had a lot of experience against Vancouver,” Price said. The Royals and Giants meet 10 times a season.
“We know Vancouver is deep at every position and always comes at us with a lot of physicality.”
The B.C. Division has proved unpredictable early on.
“Kamloops took a while to find its game and Kelowna has been up and down,” Price said.
“Also, Prince George has beaten Spokane twice now. Every team in this division can win on any given day. There is parity.”
ICE CHIPS: Victoria was without defending team scoring champion Kaid Oliver in Friday night’s 4-0 home victory over Swift Current. Oliver had only recently returned from shoulder surgery after missing the playoffs last spring. Price said Oliver is “50-50” for today in Langley. “It’s a matter of load management for Kaid at the moment,” Price said.