The Vancouver Giants are on the island this weekend to play the Royals, a team who decimated them in their only two meetings so far. Victoria is back at home after a tough Eastern road trip while Vancouver are looking to return to .500 against one of their biggest rivals.
Vancouver Giants @ Victoria Royals – Saturday October 28th – 7:05PM
SEP. 22 – VIC 7 – VAN 1
SEP. 23 – VAN 1 – VIC 6
10-4-1-0 21PTS (1st in Western Conference, 2nd in WHL)
Goals For: 77 (1st in WHL)
Goals Against: 45 (6th in WHL)
Power Play: 24/85 (28.2%, 6th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 48/63 (76.2%, 16th in WHL)
Last Game: 4-3 L vs. Prince Albert
Last 10: 5-4-1-0
Matthew Phillips – 15GP – 12G – 18A – 30PTS (T-3 in WHL)
Griffen Outhouse – 12GP – 9W – 2L – 1OTL – 2.83GAA – 0.925SV%
5-6-1-1 12PTS (7th in Western Conference, 16th in WHL)
Goals For: 44 (16th in WHL)
Goals Against: 48 (10th in WHL)
Power Play: 7/48 (14.6%, 20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 44/58 (75.9%, 17th in WHL)
Last Game: 2-1 L vs. Prince George
Last 10: 4-4-1-1
Ty Ronning – 13GP – 10G – 6A – 16PTS (T-12th in WHL)
David Tendeck – 7GP – 3W – 3L – 0OTL – 3.70GAA – 0.890SV%
One of the Royals biggest weaknesses so far in this early season has been their defensive play and penalty killing. The Giants have struggled to score power play goals this season, with only 7 goals through their first 15 games, but 5 of those have come on the road in 8 games. The arrival of a healthy Tyler Benson should boost those numbers (although he will not play Saturday night), so Victoria should be wary to stay out of the box just in case his return to the club ignites Vancouver’s other offensive guys when they are up a man.
The Giants are the type of team that the Royals should feast upon. Vancouver’s special teams are at the bottom of the league and they’ve given up more goals than they have scored, but if you take out the 13 that the Royals scored in their first 2 meetings this season, the numbers look much better. Without those games, the Giants are giving up 3.2 goals per game, and 3.7 with. Still, however, Vancouver just isn’t scoring goals despite having one of the top shots-per-game in the WHL. Their 8.79 shooting percentage in almost half of that of Victoria’s 17.34%.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Regan Nagy – RW
The less heralded of the Royals’ overage players, Nagy is currently 2nd in the WHL with 14 goals. The opposition sees Matthew Phillips and Tyler Soy and gives Nagy the lesser matchup, allowing him to be successful, and if he continues to score goals, the Royals will continue to win games.
Ryan Peckford – C
Peckford started the season off by scoring 3 goals and 5 points in the 2 games against the Giants in September but has been relatively quiet in the games since. He only has 2 points in 8 games and was a minus player for the majority of the Eastern road trip. Perhaps a visit from Vancouver is what he needs to get going offensively.
Brad Morrison – C
The 108th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft could be the biggest benefactor of a healthy Tyler Benson in the lineup and should see his assist totals skyrocket. Benson will only succeed if Morrison plays well though, and these two, along with their winger Ty Ronning, could be one of the best lines in the WHL and will be a tough shutdown for any club. The Royals are lucky that Benson will not be in on Saturday, but Morrison could take some of that momentum from Friday night’s game and could make them pay.
David Tendeck – G
The 18-year-old goaltender has had some tough games so far this season, including the 2nd Royals-Giants meeting where he gave up 6 goals on 30 shots, but he has responded well to some rough outings. His next start saw him make 43 saves in a win against Kamloops and he was roughed up in his last start 8 days ago against Brandon, which means this could be his comeback game.
It’s always a treat to watch these two rivals battle it out, but it sure seems like the Giants should be in tough against a Royals team coming off of a tough road trip who are happy to be back at the Barn on Blanshard.
Victoria wins 6-3.
*Top image by Kevin Light Photography