– With files from Marty Hastings/Kamloops This Week
The Victoria Royals nearly ended the 10 game losing streak in Kelowna on Wednesday night.
Alas, the streak reaches 11.
Jack Walker, Jamie Crooks and Austin Carroll each scored as the Royals fell to the Rockets 4-3 in a shootout. Despite the loss, it was a bounce back, start-fresh game for the Royals after the team went haywire in a 6-0 loss to Kamloops on Tuesday.
That streak could end Friday night (March 8) as the Royals (37-27-2-6) host the rebuilding Vancouver Giants, 7 p.m. at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
As Kamloops This Week reporter Marty Hastings wrote, if the Royals were to face the Kamloops Blazers in the first round of the WHL playoffs — look out.
The teams combined for 156 penalty minutes at Kamloops’ Interior Savings Centre on Tuesday, a 6-0 Blazers’ win. Ninety-three of the penalty minutes assessed on Tuesday night went to the Royals in the third period.
Because of Tuesday’s actions the Royals were without head coach Dave Lowry (code of conduct), defenceman Keegan Kanzig (one-man fight) and forward Tim Traber on Wednesday as each have been suspended indefinitely.
Traber was the instigator of an an incident in which Kale Kessy of the Blazers was rendered unconscious in the third period, said Kamloops This Week. Perhaps unknown to Traber is that Kessy was being choked by his own jersey, by many Blazers’ accounts.
Length of the suspensions yet to be released.
The absence of 21-year-olds Alex Gogolev and now Tyler Stahl (suspension, injury) have certainly hurt the team.
Gogolev’s been out since Feb. 5. At that point Gogolev had a three-game goal scoring streak and had posted 22 points in 13 games in January, during which the Royals shot up to fourth place. He was the CHL Player of the Week and had established himself as the team’s clear cut MVP.
Stahl sat for eight games in January for a checking to the head suspension, his third banishment of the season. He is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Despite dropping 11 straight, the Royals have clinched sixth place. With six games remaining it’s numerically possible to catch the fifth place Spokane Chiefs, though unlikely. Meanwhile the seventh-place Seattle Thunderbirds are too far behind to catch the Royals.
Should the Blazers finish third in the West, a Round 1 series with the Royals — a rough-and-tumble one, no doubt — will be in the cards.