Victoria Royals defenceman Luke Rybinski eyes the puck during a game against the Spokane Chiefs on Sept. 23. (Courtesy of the Victoria Royals)

Victoria Royals defenceman Luke Rybinski eyes the puck during a game against the Spokane Chiefs on Sept. 23. (Courtesy of the Victoria Royals)

Victoria Royals open season with pair of losses

Pair of comebacks come up short against the Spokane Chiefs

Two comeback attempts fell short for the Victoria Royals as WHL play returned to the capital city.

The Royals began the 2022-23 campaign at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre with a two-game series against the Spokane Chiefs starting on Friday (Sept. 23.)

“I think the guys were a little nervous, a little tentative,” head coach Dan Price said postgame. “We tried to keep them relaxed during the day, but there’s just so much build-up to this game. But once we started pushing, once we started really skating and pressuring and moving the puck I believe we played really well.”

Royals forwards Reggie Newman and Marcus Almquist both scored twice in the loss, while Carter Dereniwsky, Wyatt Wilson and Teague Patton all had multi-point games.

Spokane held a 6-2 lead after two periods. The Royals managed to cut the deficit to just two with minutes left to play but had any chance of a last-minute comeback stifled by an empty-net goal by the Chiefs.

“Towards the end we really started tilting the ice in our favour,” Price said.

In game two the next night, the teams traded goals in the opening frame before a scoreless second. Spokane got the jump early in the third, but Victoria would tie the game at 3-3.

After two straight goals by the Chiefs, Victoria defenceman Nate Misskey’s first career WHL goal would make the game 5-4 with about 10 minutes left, but that was as close as the home team would get.

Price said his team will have to bolster its defensive play by cutting down on the odd-man rushes and close down shooting lanes.

“That’s far too many goals conceded over the course of two games.”

The Royals head to Langley for a matchup against the Vancouver Giants on Sept. 30.

READ: Feds tell Canadian hockey players with KHL teams in Russia, Belarus to get out


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