The Victoria Royals season began Friday night pretty much as a reprise of the last three. The Royals were beaten 4-1 by the Vancouver Giants to start the 2023-24 Western Hockey League campaign before 3,722 at the Langley Events.
Both teams were missing players to NHL training camps.
Samuel Honzek, Jaden Lipinski and Mazden Leslie are the Giants remaining in NHL main camps. Forward Ty Halaburda out of the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association, who plays for the Giants, was a free-agent invite of the Boston Bruins, but was returned in time for the opener, as was fellow Giants forward Tyler Thorpe from the Ottawa Senators’ rookie camp. Thorpe scored one of the Vancouver goals in the opener.
The Royals have three defencemen in NHL main camps — Minnesota draft pick Kalem Parker with the Wild, Arizona draft selection Justin Kipkie with the Coyotes and San Jose-signed Gannon Laroque with the Sharks. Free-agent invitees Nate Misskey and Reggie Newman have returned from the Oilers and Coyotes rookie camps, respectively.
Victoria outshot Vancouver 25-23. The Royals have a proven veteran 20-year-old WHL goaltender on the roster but Braden Holt did not dress. Six-foot-one Jayden Kraus, the team’s third-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft, made his first career WHL start and made 19 saves. Brett Mirwald made 24 saves in goal for the Giants.
The game featured a penalty-shot goal by Czech-import Adam Titlbach. Rookie Deegan Kinniburgh, 17, got the Royals on the board for the season with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
The Royals now head down Interstate 5 to face the Everett Silvertips tonight at Angel of the Winds Arena. The home openers for Victoria are Sept. 29-30 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre against the Prince George Cougars.