Christopher Kelsall/Special to Victoria News
The Victoria Royals and the Kamloops Blazers met Friday for the first of a two-game weekend set at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The game was a demonstration of two teams going in opposite directions. The red-hot Blazers came into the building with a 10-1 record, which puts them in first place in the Western Hockey League’s West Division and second overall behind only the Winnipeg ICE, who sport a 13-1 record. The Royals are now 1-11-1.
The Royals entered the game with just one win in 13 games so far this season. Meanwhile, the Blazers also happen to be scoring more goals per game than any other WHL team and are second to the ICE in total goals having played two fewer games. They average 5.6 goals per game. Friday, they scored six, three during the first period and three in the second to win 6-0.
The Royals are allowing shots at a near 2-1 differential in almost every game including Friday’s, where they were outshot by a whopping 49-22. They are not getting the run support they need to compete, scoring a league low 1.92 goals per game. On the other hand, the Blazers spread the scoring through the lineup.
Six different Blazers scored on the evening with 17-year-old Coquitlam native Matthew Seminoff opening it up at 9:48 of the first period with his sixth of the season.
Nick McCarry at 15:57 and Daylan Kuefler at 19:02 rounded out the first period scoring. Seminoff added an assist to McCarry’s goal. Logan Stankoven, Ethan Brandwood, and Fraser Minten all scored during the second period, Stankoven and Minten on the powerplay. The Blazers went 2/6 on the man advantage.
Campbell Arnold started the game in net for the Royals letting in all six goals on 39 shots. Tyler Palmer took over to start the third frame and shutout the Blazers the rest of the way, stopping 10 of 10 shots that he faced.
Fifth-year veteran Tarun Fizer was back in the lineup. He was drafted by the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. The 20-year-old attended the Avalanche camp this summer and was assigned to their AHL affiliate the Colorado Eagles before being sent back to Victoria. The Royals added Dane, Marcus Almquist, and Evan Patrician came back from injury to fill out the first line along with Fizer. The Royals will need Fizer’s veteran presence. He did take five of the Royal’s 22 shots on net, however, was up against a strong goaltender in Langford local Dylan Garand who sports a nine and one record, with a stingy 1.91 goals against average.
He earned his second shutout of the season breezing to the win in front of 2,669 who took in the game which included a few family members. Garand is expected to start for Team Canada during the 2022 World Junior Championships this winter. The 10-team tournament will start on Boxing Day at Roger’s Arena in Edmonton, while some games will be played 90-minutes south in Red Deer’s Peavey Mart Centrium.
Garand is a fourth-round New York Rangers draft pick. He was chosen 103rd overall. The Royals and Blazers meet again at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Saturday, with a 7:05 pm puck drop.
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