SERIES PREVIEW: Royals vs. Rockets

Fresh off of a sweep of the Vancouver Giants last weekend, the Victoria Royals are back for games 3 and 4 of a 5 game homestand. Up on Friday and Saturday night are the Kelowna Rockets, who always seem to give the Royals trouble. They’ve only played once this season, an 8-3 win for Victoria in Kelowna, but the Rockets won 6 times in 8 games during their season series last year. To show the league that they are the best team in the B.C. Division, the Royals will need a pair of big games on home ice.

Kelowna Rockets @ Victoria Royals – Friday November 3rd – 7:05PM
Kelowna Rockets @ Victoria Royals – Saturday November 4th – 7:05PM

Past Meetings:

OCT. 4th – VIC 8 – KEL 3

VICTORIA:
17GP 12-4-1-0 25PTS (1st in Western Conference, 1st in WHL)
Goals For: 87 (1st in WHL)
Goals Against: 53 (9th)
Power Play: 26/99 (26.3%, 7th)
Penalty Kill: 60/76 (79.0%, 9th)
Last Game: 4-3 W vs. VAN
Last 10: 5-4-1-0

Leading Scorer: 
Matthew Phillips – 17GP – 15G – 19A – 34PTS (T-2 in WHL)

Starting Goaltender:
Griffen Outhouse – 13GP – 10W – 2L – 1OTL – 3.00GAA – 0.922SV%

 

KELOWNA:
15GP 7-5-2-1 17PTS (6th in Western Conference, 10th in WHL)
Goals For: 57 (7th)
Goals Against: 57 (12th)
Power Play: 17/76 (22.4%, 11th)
Penalty Kill: 50/68 (73.5%, 19th)
Last Game: 4-3 OTL vs. TC
Last 10: 4-4-2-0

Leading Scorer:
Kole Lind – 15GP – 9G – 16A – 25PTS (6th in WHL)

Starting Goaltender:
James Porter – 10GP – 4W – 2L – 2OTL – 3.36GAA – 0.904SV%

The Royals had a big penalty killing weekend against the Vancouver Giants, which pushed both their special teams into the top 10 in the league. On the other side, the Rocket’s special teams have let them down this season, including their last game against the Tri-City Americans where they gave up two power-play goals in the first period which forced them to play catch up for the rest of the contest.

Victoria is still the top team in the Western Hockey League (mainly due to playing more games) but they are far from a perfect squad. Against a Giants team that they should have beaten handily, the Royals gave up a few leads and failed to shut them down defensively and it almost cost them in both their games. The Rockets are coming into this game winning 3 of their last 4 games (getting points in all 4 of those games) and considering they usually have the Royals number, this could be a very dangerous two games for the home team. However, two solid games from Victoria could go a long way for their confidence and they could be back to blowing teams out in no time.

Royals-VS-Rockets-NOV-20-2016.-Rockets-16-Kole-Lind-2868

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

VICTORIA:

Griffen Outhouse – G
Victoria’s starting goaltender has struggled with consistency so far this season, despite leading the WHL in wins for 2017-2018. He has bounced between great starts (against Edmonton on October 18th and Seattle on October 24th) and less-than-great ones (against Regina on October 20th and Vancouver on October 28th), which means that he is due for a solid start on Friday night.

Spencer Gerth – RW
The big winger seems to save all of his points for the Okanagan teams, with all three of his points coming in the three games against Kamloops and Kelowna at the start of the year. In fact, his last point came in the 8-3 win over the Rockets (although it came on the 8th goal with less than a minute left in the game), and he’s due for another assist. It is worth noting that with 3 points this season, Gerth has tied his WHL career high. Of course, getting points isn’t what Gerth can do to be effective. Shutting down the offensive big guys of the other teams is why he’s on the Royals, and look for him to have one of those games.

KELOWNA: 

Kole Lind – RW
Despite Kelowna’s rough start, there have only been three games this season where Lind did not get a point and has already had 6 multi-point games, including their last against Tri-City. Lind hasn’t played in Vancouver since being drafted by the Canucks in last June’s draft, but playing in Victoria is “close enough”. Look for him to have a big game in a city where there are plenty of Canucks fans cheering that he does well, but also that the Royals win.

James Porter – G
It is tough moving on from a goaltender like Michael Herringer, who was tremendous for Kelowna in his time there. Porter, in his first season in the WHL after being drafted in the 7th round in 2015, has gotten the bulk of the starts despite playing alongside the Rockets’ backup from a year ago, Brodan Salmond. In his last 5 starts, Porter has only allowed more than 3 goals against once, and that was in the overtime loss against Tri-City last game and seems to be finding his groove. This team can only succeed if the goaltenders can keep their goals against down to 3 or less, and the rookie Porter is doing his best at that at this point in the season.

The Prediction:
Both goaltenders are on their game for Friday night’s contest, and the Kelowna Rockets will sneak out a 3-2 lead, perhaps in overtime or a shootout. For Saturday night, the Royals will turn it on and show the fans why they are the number one team in the league, winning 7-3.

Friday: KELOWNA 3 – VICTORIA 2 (OT)
Saturday: VICTORIA 7 – KELOWNA 3

 

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