Warm-ed up: Victoria Royals take aim at Edmonton Oil Kings

Jacson Alexander’s vexation is almost palpable when he explains how hard it is to miss tonight’s Western Hockey League game in his hometown due to a concussion.

“It’s really frustrating that I can’t play,” said the Edmonton Oil Kings blue-liner, who hails from Esquimalt.

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Another player who had this game circled on the calendar, but who is playing, is former Oil Kings defenceman Will Warm.

“It’s going to feel weird. Edmonton is the team that drafted me out of bantam and I have so many good friends on that team,” said three-season Oil King Warm, acquired by the Royals in the off-season.

Among those buddies is Alexander.

“Jacson is a great friend of mine,” said Warm.

Warm is 20 and took on a bit of a mentor role with Alexander, who is two years younger. But that on-ice relationship was abbreviated because of injuries to both players that limited Alexander to just 15 regular-season games last season and Warm to 33. Warm was able to return for the playoffs, however, but not Alexander.

So the bonding came off the ice.

“We were injured at the same time last year,” noted Alexander. “But I learned a lot from Will in the time I had watching him play. I really look up to him. I even moved in with his old billets.”

The Oil Kings are 14-4-5 and ranked No. 8 in the Canadian Hockey League national top-10 poll.

“We lost some players from last season, but a lot of guys stepped up, and we traded for some guys for key roles,” said Alexander, who has a goal and five assists for six points and a plus-4 rating in 11 games.

“We’re all getting used to each other and everybody has bought in. I think we can make a real push this season in the playoffs.”

That’s something Alexander knows about after winning the 2018 WHL championship as a rookie with the Swift Current Broncos, the team that selected the Racquet Club of Victoria and Shawnigan Lake School product 17th overall in the first round of the 2016 bantam draft.

Meanwhile, tonight will be like playing against ghosts of hockey past for Warm.

“I am going to treat this like just another game,” he said.

The Royals are 10-8-1 after having their four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday by the Rockets in Kelowna. Despite the 4-1 setback they remain one of the surprises of the WHL season.

“We haven’t proven anything yet,” said Warm, heading into Kelowna.

That warning was borne out by the result in the Okanagan.

The Oil Kings also have cooled a bit after a fast start and were 4-3-2 in their last nine games heading into Prince George on Tuesday to begin their B.C. Division excursion. But there’s nothing quite like the lowly Cougars to fix what ails you and Edmonton prevailed 3-2 before making the long drive down to the Coast.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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