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Playoff spot in reach after Victoria Royals stay hot with weekend sweep

Local team beat Kelowna twice, could leapfrog them in Western Conference standings on Jan. 18
The Victoria Royals, donning special Lunar New Year jersey, beat the Kelowna Rockets on Jan. 14. The team has now won four of their last five games. (Courtesy of Victoria Royals)

The Victoria Royals captured two big wins over a division rival on the weekend, closing a gap in the standings as they edge toward the final playoff spot.

The weekend sweep at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre came against the Kelowna Rockets, continuing a streak where Victoria has had the interior team’s number in each of their last five meetings.

The Royals took a 6-3 win on Saturday (Jan. 14) as the home team donned special Lunar New Year jerseys. Victoria got its first lead of the night in the second period when Robin Sapousek scored his first WHL goal.

“I didn’t think it went in,” the Czech-born forward said postgame. “We have a really good group and I hope these wins push us to have more good games.”

The Royals also benefitted from multi-point nights from Matthew Hodson, Jake Poole and Tanner Scott as the team has now won four of their last five.

“Very proud of the evolution of the team,” head coach Dan Price said after Saturday’s win. “The guys stayed very calm through some very difficult challenges at the start of the year. It’s good to see us start to get some rhythm and confidence, structure and consistency. I’m very proud of the maturity level and calmness among the group, but, as I mentioned, there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Victoria blanked Kelowna 4-0 on Friday night as goaltender Braden Holt stopped every one of the 29 shots put his way. It was also his second shutout in his short time with the team after the Royals acquired the Montana native last month. Victoria has yet to lose in regulation with Holt between the pipes as he improves to 5-0-0-1 after the weekend wins.

The Royals are now one point back of Kelowna for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as the Rockets still have two games in hand on the capital city.

With the Rockets off until Friday, Victoria could leap into a playoff position with a win over the Tri-City Americans in Washington State on Wednesday (Jan. 18). Puck drop for that game is at 7:05 p.m.

READ: Victoria Royals open 2023 with two wins in three high-scoring contests


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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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