Victoria Royals in seventh heaven, crush Tri City

 

People are running out of words to describe the Victoria Royals’ torrid start to the Western Hockey League season.

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If five was fine and six was sweet, then seven was satisfying. Will eight be edifying?

The Royals extended their franchise-record winning streak to start a season to seven games with an 8-2 victory Tuesday night over the Tri City Americans (3-4) at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

The onslaught on Blanshard, against one of the most highly regarded teams in the WHL, started early with Ryan Peckford scoring for Victoria at just 10 seconds. It was the third-fastest goal in franchise history.

Taylor Crunk of the Royals in 2013-14 and Ryan Howse, when the team was located in Chilliwack, each scored at nine seconds.

Matthew Phillips put Victoria ahead by two before the game was three minutes old.

It was the first of two breakaway goals on a four-point night for Phillips, with his second goal scored shorthanded in the second period.

“Speed is a big staple of this team, and transition is also a big strength,” said the undersized, but flash-quick, Calgary Flames draft pick.

Jared Legien made it 3-0 on Victoria’s league-leading 14th power-play goal of the season at 6:40, and the Royals were on their way.

“We have a strong team that is tightknit,” said Legien.

“Tri City is obviously a good team, but we stuck to our game plan and got some bounces on them tonight.”

With four Tri City players selected in the first four rounds of the 2017 NHL draft — including first-rounders Michael Rasmussen ninth overall to the Detroit Red Wings and offensive-blueliner Juuso Valimaki 16th overall to the Flames — it isn’t hard to see why WHL pre-season prognosticators were falling all over themselves in proclaiming the greatness-to-come for the 2017-18 edition of the Americans.

Throw in Dylan Coghlan from Nanaimo, the big but mobile Americans rearguard signed to an NHL contact by the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and third-round Carolina Hurricanes pick Morgan Geekie, fourth-round Anaheim Ducks selection Kyle Olson and 20-year-old offensive-threat Jordan Topping from Salt Spring Island.

It was a good Island homecoming as Coghlan and Topping scored for the Americans on Tuesday, but it wasn’t nearly enough, as the Royals have stolen Tri City’s marquee billing in the early season. The Americans, however, shouldn’t feel too bad. The Royals have stolen just about everybody’s thunder so far.

“We did our job defensively of not giving the [Americans’ top offensive players] too much room,” said Phillips.

Regan Nagy scored twice, once on the power play, to push Victoria’s season total to 15 odd-man goals.

“Our power play is working because we have a lot of different weapons,” said Phillips.

Tyler Soy scored his second goal in as many games since being returned to Victoria from the pro camp of the Anaheim Ducks-affiliate San Diego Gulls.

Also strong on the back end was Los Angeles Kings signed Royals blueliner Chaz Reddekopp, also in his second game back after returning from pro camps.

“[Soy and Reddekopp] are fifth-year players and they are taking a lot of pride in this season and in being leaders,” noted Phillips, of the highest-scoring team in the WHL.

Rookie Dino Kambeitz, on a sweet feed from sophomore Eric Florchuk, also scored for Victoria.

“We are getting contributions from a lot of different guys,” said Phillips.

ICE CHIPS: Amerks blueliner Valimaki missed Tuesday’s game due to illness … Maxwell James of Tri City drew a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head that drove Royals rookie Tarun Fizer into the boards late in the third period. Fizer went down hard to the ice and had to be helped off. … The Royals and Americans meet again tonight before Victoria embarks on a season-long, seven-game road swing, beginning Saturday in Spokane.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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