Royals fade to Blazers on Pink in the Rink night

Promising start by Victoria Royals undone by WHL-best Kamloops Blazers, as Blazers win 5-1

The Royals split their weekend series with the Kamloops Blazers

The power of pink was not enough for the Victoria Royals on Saturday.

A sellout crowd of 7,006 fans showed up at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in support of Pink in the Rink night, only to watch the home team lose 5-1 to the Kamloops Blazers.

With the win the Blazers split the weekend series and took over top spot in the WHL standings with 74 points, two ahead of the Tri-City Americans and Eastern conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings.

The game opened with a promising start, as defensive-minded forward Tim Traber scored his second goal of the year for the Royals. Then came Jordan Fransoo’s second scrap since coming to Victoria in a trade for leading scorer Kevin Sundher.

“We started out not bad, better than (Friday’s 4-2 win),” said Traber, the game’s second star. “I thought we battled back. But we broke down (tonight) halfway through the second.”

Rookie Tim Bozon was at it again for the Blazers, adding a goal and an assist on Saturday after a two-point effort for Kamloops on Friday. The sensational Swiss import, still only 17-years-old, scored first for the Blazers to tie it at 1-1 in the second period. Bozon’s wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle clanked bar-down over goalie Keith Hamilton’s shoulder. Brendan Ranford, Colin Smith, J.C. Lipon and Brock Balson also scored for the Blazers.

“I thought (Friday) we had that extra. And today we just didn’t have that extra,” said coach and GM Marc Habscheid. “We were a half step off.”

A series of in-game promotions and events during Saturday’s game supported the B.C. Cancer Foundation, including an auction of the game-worn pink jerseys.

Going into the evening, the Royals were seeking back-to-back wins for the first time in 2012 but have now dropped six of seven games to the Blazers this season. The Royals meet the Blazers once more, in Kamloops on Feb. 22.

This week’s games (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1) against the Prince George Cougars are important to both teams playoff hopes. But the fact the Cougars franchise makes its first return to Victoria since leaving after the 1994-95 season won’t be a distraction for his players, Habscheid said.

A sweep of the two-games would increase the Royals’ (37 points) lead over the Cougars (32 points) from five to nine points, as the Royals hang onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Game time is 7:05 p.m. tonight.

Forsberg one to watch

The ninth-place Cougars aren’t without their stars, with centre Alex Forsberg a key cog in the club’s rebuild. Forsberg, from Saskatchewan (not Sweden), is a talented playmaker who turned 17 on Jan. 5. He is already gaining attention for the 2013 NHL Entry draft.

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