Royals cut ties with 20-year-olds

Victoria Royals release 20-year-olds Keith Hamilton and Mike Forsyth to waivers

Keith Hamilton watches the puck while defenceman Hayden Rintoul kicks it away from the net during the Royals' WHL 2011-12 season. Hamilton played in 58 games during the Royals first season in Victoria and was cut on Sept. 9.

The reshaping of the Victoria Royals roster took a signficant step forward on Sunday as 20-year-olds Keith Hamilton and Mike Forsyth were placed on waivers.

Western Hockey League teams are restricted to three 20-year-olds. Defenceman Tyler Stahl and forward Jamie Crooks will use up two of the Royals’ three spots.

Hamilton thanked the team through Twitter on Sunday, and called it a “classy organization with even classier people.”

After he started the majority of the Royals games in 2011-12, winning 20 of 58 appearances, the former Portland Winterhawks backup lost his job to the trio of up-and-coming goalies, Czech import Patrik Polivka, 18, Coleman Vollrath, 17, and Jared Rathjen, 18.

There is Hope for Hamilton and Forsyth to be claimed by another club, though it’s unlikely as there are so few spots for 20-year-olds.

For Forsyth it likely spells the end of his WHL career as his offensive numbers were slim. The Calgary native potted three goals last season, down from eight in his rookie year with Chilliwack in 2010-11.

Sentiments about the two players were released by teammate Brandon Magee, among others.

“Tough day seeing beauties go (sic) gonna miss @KeithHamilton30 and (Forsyth) not only great team mates but unbelievable friends.”

Last week the Royals made a signifcant acquistion for a player who other-wise looked to be NCAA bound. The Royals traded for the playing rights of forward Evan Richardson, 18, from the Swift Current Broncos. The ex-Victoria Grizzlies forward, and former first round WHL Bantam Draft pick, is currently with the Powell River Kings in the B.C. Hockey League. The Royals gave up forward Justin Spagrud, 17, and a conditional draft pick.

Richardson is highly offensive in the BCHL, where he scored 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) in 42 games, and helped lead the Kings to the BCHL final. But Richardson has retained his NCAA eligibility to this point, and would need convincing to jump to the WHL. He is, however, well known to the organization.

Richardson was teammates with Joel Lowry, son of coach Dave Lowry, on the 2010-11 Victoria Grizzlies which won seven playoff games. As well, Royals assistant coach Geoff Grimwood held the same position with the Powell River Kings last season.

The Royals host the Vancouver Giants in preseason play on Saturday (Sept. 15), 2:05 p.m. at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.