Royals even better than they look

Victoria Royals open Western Hockey League season with pair of wins over the Vancouver Giants, set to host Kamloops Blazers

Giants defenceman John Neibrandt shoves Royals forward Austin Carroll into goalie Liam Liston during the Royals home opener

The score sheet doesn’t do the Victoria Royals 6-4 and 3-2 opening-weekend wins over the Vancouver Giants any justice. The Royals carried the play in both games, particularly in Victoria on Saturday night. But the Giants scored against the flow in both, mounting comebacks that were ultimately too late.

“It’s something special to get those two wins (in one weekend) against Vancouver already, it didn’t happen at all last year,” forward Logan Nelson said after the game.

At the same time, no one in the Royals dressing room was fooling themselves. Despite the Royals nearly doubling the Giants in shots in the second period on Saturday, the Giants ended with two goals on 23 shots against Patrik Polivka to the Royals three goals on 25 shots against Liam Liston.

Steven Hodges led the Royals with two goals and an assist on Friday, and Alex Gogolev scored his first goal, the game-winner, on Saturday. Brandon Magee scored in both games.

“I like the fact we battled hard, we went in to a tough building (in Vancouver on Friday) and found a way to win,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry.

“I thought we played a pretty solid game (Saturday). Moving forward we will learn to play with the lead and defend the lead.”

Goalie Polivka started both games but Lowry is hesitant to label the Czech as the Royals starter.

“He played well enough to earn the first start, made some big saves in Vancouver, so I thought why not stay with him?”

The Royals host the Kamloops Blazers Friday night (Sept. 28) and Sunday afternoon at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

“Kamloops is a veteran squad, highly skilled, and if we want to be a top team we’re going to have to start beating these top teams,” Lowry said.

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