The Victoria Royals entered the Christmas break with a 13-20-2-2 record and 30 points – good for 4th in the BC Division. Winless in 4, but earned 2 points on their 4 game road trip. A 4-2 loss in Medicine Hat December 17th, a 5-4 overtime loss in Lethbridge the night before, dropped a 6-3 decision in Edmonton and kicked off the trek with a 4-3 shoot out loss at Seattle.
Tonight Victoria begins a two game set in Portland versus the Winterhawks who are 2nd in the US division with 45 points. Last season the two teams split the season series.
THE OPPOSITION: Portland entered the Christmas break with an 8-6 win in Spokane, going
.500 (2-2-1-0) on the 4 game road trip. Now winners of 6 of their last
HOME SWEET HOME: Portland hasn’t played at home in 25 days, and are strong 10 over .500 at home - but even on the road. They’re riding a 9 game home win streak, their last loss 5-4 versus Kamloops Oct 14th.
#1's: The Winterhawks lead the league in several categories, they own the best power play which accounts for a third of the clubs goals. Also number 1 in goals and shots for, on average in the ‘dub.
WHO'S OUT: Tonight Portland will be Sven Bartschi who’s representing team Switzerland at the World Juniors. He’s second in scoring on Portland (54), but is averaging over 2 points per game and is signed by the Calgary Flames. Nino Niederreiter is playing for the New York Islanders as a ’92, with 1 point in 11 games. Royals defenseman Keegan Kanzig is representing Team Pacific at the U-17's.
THREATS: Ty Rattie who was drafted by St. Louis leads the team in scoring with 62 points, number 1 in the league in goals (33), and power play goals (16). He was a recent cut from team Canada as was third in Winterhawks scoring, Brad Ross. Drafted by the Leafs, he’s currently riding a 5 game goal scoring streak. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot will be attending the Top Prospects game.
Other draft noteables include goaltender Mac Carruth (Chi ’10), d-man Troy Rutkowski (Col ’10), d-man Joseph Morrow (Sign Pitt), forward Tyler Wotherspoon (Cgy ’11), and William Wren (SJ ’09).
STREAKS: For Victoria, Kevin Sundher is on a 7 game point scoring streak (3+7=10 points). Steven Hodges also pushes his point streak to 5 games with a helper (6 points). Jesse Pauls with 3 goals in his last 2 gives him 7 points in his last 6 outings.
OLD STOMPING GROUNDS: Netminder Keith Hamilton is back in Portland, to face the team that traded him in the offseason to Victoria for a 3rd, 4th, and 9th round picks in the 2012 bantam draft. Last season he won 17 of 28 games for the Winterhawks.
The Royals will play tonight and Friday in Portland before returning home for a Tuesday night tilt against the Hitmen from Calgary. Victoria hasn’t played at home since Dec 9th.
*5 Victoria Royals prospects are in this year's Macs Midget tournament;