Friday, 13 January 2012

Preview: Victoria at Regina

Tonight the Victoria Royals (13-24-2-3) begin a 6 game in 9 night eastern division road trip in Regina (24-16-3-1) against the Pats. 

They only meet once a year, last season dropping a 3-2 shoot out loss.  They last played in Regina on Feb. 20th, 2010 and fell 5-3.

Victoria, with 3 points while going winless in 9, are coming off a 4-3 shoot out loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets last Saturday.

They traded their leading scorer, Kevin Sundher, a day before the deadline to Brandon in exchange for for 18-year old defenceman Jordan Fransoo (7th rd OTT), 17-year old left-winger Dakota Conroy and a 1st round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.  The Royals face Sundher tomorrow night in Brandon.

Sundher, Fransoo, Conroy
Without Sundher’s 64 points (17.6% of team total) the offense falls into the hands of their new leading scorer, Jamie Crooks (43) who is riding a 5 game point streak (4g 6a).  Logan Nelson (40) is tied for 2nd in rookie scoring, and Robin Soudek is third in scoring (36), but is pointless in 3.

In the final playoff spot with 31 points, Victoria sits 3 up on Prince George – a team they’ll face 6 more times this season.  The Cougars flipped their blue chip defenseman Martin Marincin to the Pats at the trade deadline and have one game in hand.

Regina, with only 1 loss in their last 6 and points in 7 of 8, are coming off a 2-0 win Wednesday in Prince Albert.  Jordan Weal extended his 6 game point and goal scoring streak.  He’s 2nd in league scoring with 70 points, more than twice as many as any teammate.

Riding a 4 game home win streak, they begin 6 straight at the Brandt Centre, in a tight Eastern Conference.  With 52 points and an impressive 8 over .500 winning percentage, the Pats find themselves tied for 4th in the East, 2 back on Kootenay – but only 9 points out of first.

Tonight, the Royals hit the ice for the first time in 6 days, look a little younger with 2 new members, and hope to snap a 9 game winless skid in Regina against the Pats.

KEY STATS:  The Regina Pats are 6 games over .500 when being outshot 28 times this season (15-9-2-1) Outshooting their opponents just (8-6-1-0).  Regina’s best period is the middle frame, out scoring opponents by a margin of 15 goals, the 3rd is their worst, being out scored by 4.

WHO'S IN / OUT:  Ben Walker has joined the club on the trip and could back in the line up, but Zane Jones is serving 2 games for a boarding major versus Kelowna on January 7.  For Regina, Brandon Underwood – Lower Body (Day to Day) and Chandler Stephenson – Lower Body (Week to Week).

PATS TRADES:  On a trade deadline day deal, the Pats acquired 19 year old defenceman, Martin Marincin, as well as a 4th and a 7th round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft as well as a 4th in 2013 from the Prince George Cougars in exchange for Ricard Blidstrand, a 1st and 2nd round picks in 2012 and a 5th in 2013.   Last Friday, the Regina Pats acquired 18 year old defenceman Luke Fenske from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for a 3d round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

TOP PROSPECTS:  Both Dominik Volek (Son of NHL'er David Volek) and Chandler Stephenson have been invited to play at the CHL/NHL Home Hardware Top Prospects game on February 1st in Kelowna. Stephenson will play for Team Orr while Volek will play for Team Cherry.

MID-TERM RANKS:  Both Stephenson and Volek are ranked in the NHL’s ISS’s World Preseason rankings (Stephenson 63rd, Volek 124th). Victoria’s Steven Hodges (55), and Logan Nelson (108) among North American skaters.

HICKETTS TO REPRESENT:  Joe Hicketts, Victoria's 1st rd bantam pick in 2011, is set to represent Canada at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, which begin on January 13th and run through January 22nd.