Victoria Royals down Kelowna Rockets in shootout


Cancer survivor Wendi Warm dropped a pink puck while son Will Warm of the Victoria Royals took the ceremonial draw to open the annual Pink in the Rink fundraising game before 7,006 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Saturday. 

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“Mom was a huge inspiration to me and the rest of my family,” said Will Warm, in what was his 200th career WHL game.

The family includes another WHL player — Will’s twin brother and Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Beck Warm — as Wendi Warm certainly spent a lot of time in hockey rinks as her sons were growing up in Whistler.

The Royals’ pink-tinged jerseys were adorned with a crest styled after that of the 1925 Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars and were the sharpest in years for the annual contest. The jerseys were auctioned off post-game to raise funds for cancer research through the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

The Royals were pretty in pink with a 4-3 shootout victory. The Rockets still got their Foote in the door for a point despite not having any Footes. They were missing captain Nolan Foote, the world junior gold medallist, who is in New Jersey for a physical after his NHL rights were traded by Tampa Bay to the Devils.

That is not to mention dad Adam Foote, the two-time Stanley Cup-champion and Olympic gold medallist as a player, who was fired Wednesday as head coach of the Rockets.

Kris Mallette’s debut as interim head coach was fairly successful, including a 3-2 win Friday in Victoria, a tender mercy in an otherwise tempestuous and underachieving season for the Rockets (25-26-5), who are trying to regroup ahead of hosting the Memorial Cup in May.

The second-place Royals (30-21-7) ended a five-game winless skid and are now 1-3-2 in their last six with B.C. Division rivals Vancouver Giants breathing down their necks.

Anaheim Ducks first-round draft pick Brayden Tracey scored twice for Victoria, with one of his goals on the power play. Tarun Fizer scored on a short-handed breakaway as special teams aided an otherwise erratic Victoria offence. Rockets veteran Kyle Topping of Salt Spring Island, Trevor Wong and Elias Carmichael scored for Kelowna.

Adam Evanoff blocked 33 shots for the Royals while Roman Basran stopped 34 for Kelowna in strong crease nights.

The Royals won the shootout on goals by Kaid Oliver and Gary Haden.

Victoria leads the nine-game season series against Kelowna 5-3.

The Royals now prepare for three consecutive games next weekend against the Giants that will decide home-ice advantage in what could be an opening-round playoff match-up.

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