Two points is all that separates the Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets for first place in the B.C. Division.
Which makes this weekend’s Friday-Saturday set at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre crucial for the Royals. An opportunity lies for both teams to take home an important four points; for the Royals a chance to reclaim first place, and for the Rockets a chance to triple their current two point lead.
Here are a few story lines for the game!
Matthew Phillips vs. Kole Lind – Flames vs. Canucks?
Royals forward Matthew Phillips and Kole Lind of the Rockets represent some of the hottest players in the league. Having spent their entire WHL careers battling each other in the B.C. division, they might just do so at the NHL level one day – provided they get there of course. Phillips was drafted in the 6th round by the Calgary Flames in 2016, while Lind is a 2nd round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2017.
Lind just had the 2nd longest streak of the entire season end on February 2nd, torching the league for 15 goals, 23 assists, and 38 points over a 20 game streak. The 6’1 winger boasts a lethal shot and great vision.
Royals captain Matthew Phillips currently boasts the longest active streak in the league at 15 games. Over that time the diminutive centerman has sniped 11 goals to go along with 18 assists and 29 points.
With Phillips destined for pro hockey next season, this may be among the last matchups between the two until they can compete with the Flames and Canucks in the future.
Royals look to bounce back after high scoring loss to Winterhawks
Ideally when you score 5 goals in a game, you’d like to claim two points in victory. That wasn’t the case this past Wednesday, as the Royals scored plenty, but allowed 8 in an 8-5 loss.
Defensively, Victoria has been hit or miss this season. Over their past 8 games, they’ve kept their opponents to three goals or less in 5 of those games. Which certainly sets them up for success given their high octane offense.
The problem, however, is when the wheels fall off, they fall way off. Of those 3 games where they’ve surrendered more than 3 goals, they’ve allowed way more – surrendering 8 goals twice and 7 goals on one occasion.
The games get away from them when the Royals come out flat and give up goals early. Against the Kelowna Rockets on January 20th and the Tri-City Americans on January 30th, the Royals found themselves down three goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. Performances like that don’t give the Royals’ stars time to strut their stuff, and Matthew Philips, Tyler Soy, and Dante Hannoun end up playing catch up the whole game.
With a hard punching offense like the Rockets coming to town, it’ll be critical for Dan Price and his Royals to stave off an early attack.
Victoria Royals vs. Kelowna Rockets Breakdown
- Record: 32-19-3-1
- Last 10: 7-3-0-0
- Ranking: 2nd in B.C. Division
- Head-to-head: 2-2-0-1
- Goals per game: 4.15, 2nd of 22
- Goals against per game: 3.65, 16th of 22
- Power play: 23.5%, 8th of 22
- Penalty kill: 74.5%, 20th of 22
- Goal leaders: Matthew Phillips (39), Tyler Soy (27), Dante Hannoun (21)
- Assist leaders: Matthew Phillips (49), Tyler Soy (42), Dante Hannoun (40)
- Points leaders: Matthew Phillips (88), Tyler Soy (69), Dante Hannoun (62)
- Last game: 8-5 loss at Portland
- Record: 33-16-3-1
- Last 10: 6-3-1-0
- Ranking: 1st in B.C. Division
- Head-to-head: 3-2-0-0
- Goals per game: 3.92, 4th of 22
- Goals against per game: 3.43, 9th of 22
- Power play: 26.6%, 5th of 22
- Penalty kill: 76.9%, 15th of 22
- Goal leaders: Carsen Twarynski (34), Kole Lind (28), Dillon Dube (23)
- Assist leaders: Kole Lind (46), Cal Foote (35), Kyle Topping (33)
- Points leaders: Kole Lind (74), Carsen Twarynski (57), Dillon Dube (51)
- Last game: 4-1 win in Kelowna