There was plenty of time on a travel day Tuesday for the Victoria Royals to look forward to the Vancouver Giants and take a final look back at the Kamloops Blazers.
The B.C. Division second-seed Royals returned from Kamloops after dispatching the division third-seed Blazers 4-2 in their opening-round Western Hockey League playoff series following Monday night’s 4-1 victory.
“Discipline won it for us,” said Royals head coach Dan Price.
“We needed to keep our composure during the physicality of a tough series and we displayed both physical and mental discipline.”
That, and a roster which Price describes as both “deep and versatile.”
That was evident as Victoria was missing key forwards Monday night to either injury (Kaid Oliver) or suspension (Kody McDonald and Tanner Sidaway).
Yet, the Blazers were kept off balance by an opportunistic Victoria offence that seemed to come from anywhere and everywhere with Brandon Cutler scoring twice in Monday’s clinching game, Phillip Schultz with nine points in the series, Dino Kambeitz with five goals and seven points, Carson Miller with four series goals and defenceman Scott Walford with five points.
“It was offence by committee and defence by committee,” said Price. “Everyone contributed.”
Perhaps no one more than veteran goaltender Griffen Outhouse.
“More than the number of saves Griff made, it was that they were timely saves — big saves at big moments,” said Price.
Now awaits the WHL’s version of the Subway Series. Call it the Strait Series or the Salish Series. The Royals will meet the Vancouver Giants for the second year in a row in the playoffs. This time it’s the second round after the Royals outlasted the Giants in a seven-game first-round marathon last year.
That was Vancouver’s first playoff appearance in three seasons. Now fully into their rebuild, the Giants are the B.C. Division and Western Conference champions as they beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-2 in their opening-round series.
“Both Victoria and Vancouver have speed and physicality and it is going to be a great series,” said Price.
The opening two games are Friday and Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. The series switches to Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre next Tuesday and Thursday. Further games, if required, would be April 13 in Langley, April 15 in Victoria and April 17 in Langley.
The other Western Conference series has the Everett Silvertips taking on the Spokane Chiefs.