If a team doesn’t like the results of a game in the Western Hockey League, it won’t have to wait long to set matters right. That’s good news for a club on a seven-game losing streak like the Victoria Royals.
With dates to make up, due to COVID-protocol postponements, game density has never been thicker in the WHL than it will be going into the back stretch of the 2021-22 regular season.
Victoria, following four consecutive postponed games this month, is playing 10 games in 16 days from Jan. 14 through the coming games Friday and Saturday in Kamloops against the Blazers.
The Royals host the Kelowna Rockets tonight and Wednesday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The Rockets’ last two scheduled games were postponed and Kelowna will play its final 36 games of the season over 68 days.
Victoria, meanwhile, is slowly getting back to health.
“We’re not making excuses but it’s been a tough slog,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price, about the seven-game slide.
“There’s been a reason for each of those games as we’ve face real adversity with injuries and illness. But spirits remain high and the guys are invested. They believe in themselves and the team.”
Upgraded to day-to-day are defenceman Anson McMaster and forward Reggie Newman but captain Tarun Fizer is still week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
Three of the games in the Royals’ streak of seven consecutive losses have been against the Rockets. Overall, Victoria is 1-4-2 this season against a Kelowna club that has proved a tough nut to crack for the Island side.
“The Rockets are extremely physical and they really embrace that style,” said Price, saying his players will need to also play the body against Kelowna.
Victoria’s stark slide, meanwhile, has allowed Tri-City to climb into a tie with the Royals for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference with the Americans holding a game in hand.
“No position in the conference is comfortable. Everyone is jockeying,” said Price.
The discomfort level will mount for the Royals unless they can find a way to end their downward spiral. At least the opportunities to do that are coming fast and furious.