The Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars take to the ice this weekend in the B.C. Interior for a pair of Western Hockey League games. The teams play a return two-game set March 9 and 11 at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Victoria Royals can clinch WHL playoff spot with win tonight in Kamloops

First place in B.C. further out of reach, but divisional points up for grabs down stretch

With just nine games remaining on their regular season Western Hockey League schedule, the Victoria Royals are looking to earn key points against B.C. Division lesser lights ahead of the playoffs.

Coming off a pair of slim losses to Portland last weekend, 3-2 on Saturday and 2-1 Friday, the Royals can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Blazers in Kamloops tonight (Feb. 28). The Royals head up Highway 97 to Prince George tomorrow in advance of games against the last-place Cougars on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Royals have fallen seven points back of division-leading Kelowna and lead the third-place Vancouver Giants by a mere two points. The Blazers are another 14 points back of the Giants while the Cougars are nine behind Kamloops.

If the playoffs were to start today, the Royals, sitting at No. 5 in the Western Conference, would play No. 4 Spokane Chiefs. Beating the Blazers will assure Victoria of at least eighth place, but chalking up more points in the meantime would give them a more favourable first-round matchup.

Ironically, the Royals return home for a pair of games against those same Chiefs next Tuesday and Wednesday nights (March 6 and 7 at 7 p.m.), then host Prince George the following Friday and Sunday.

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