The Victoria Royals opened the Western Hockey League preseason Friday night with a 7-3 loss against the Rockets in Kelowna before 1,695 fans at Prospera Place.
It was the first exhibition game for both B.C. Division clubs.
Goals by Turner McMillen, Max Graham and Dylan Wightman in the first four minutes set the tone for the hosts. Brayden Schuurman scored Victoria’s first goal of the exhibition campaign at 14:42 of the first before Gabriel Szturc restored Kelowna’s three-goal advantage before the first break.
Reggie Newman of the Royals and Scott Cousins of the Rockets exchanged second-period goals. Andrew Cristall and John Babcock scored for Kelowna in the third period while Schuurman notched his second of the game for Victoria.
The Rockets and Royals each had 28 shots on goal.
The Royals had a wide edge in power-play opportunities but only went 1-7. The Rockets did not score on their two power plans.
The Royals, who have taken 28 players on the Okanagan swing, meet the Rockets again tonight in Kelowna.
Victoria closes out the preseason Sept. 25 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre against the Prince George Cougars in the first hockey game on Blanshard Street since March of 2020.
The Rockets will play four preseason games, finishing off in Kamloops against the Blazers next Friday and hosting the Blazers in Kelowna on Sept. 25.
The Royals’ regular-season opener is Oct. 2 at the Memorial Centre against the Vancouver Giants. The Rockets will open their season Oct. 8 in Victoria.