Victoria Royals (31-23-4-0)
at Lethbridge Hurricanes (34-16-4-3)
Friday, Feb. 17 – 7 p.m. (Mountain) / 6 p.m. (Pacific)
Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD304; Shaw Direct Satellite HD Classic 120 or Advanced 620
The Victoria Royals will look to get back into the win column when they visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes for WHL on Shaw action Friday night.
In the midst of a four-game road trip, the Royals dropped their last home outing to the Kamloops Blazers before falling to the Medicine Hat Tigers, who became the second WHL team to clinch a playoff berth, Wednesday night.
As for the Hurricanes, they bounced back from a 5-0 shutout loss to those same Tigers by defeating the Kootenay ICE 6-4 on Sunday afternoon in Cranbrook. Lethbridge sits eight points back of the Tigers for the Central Division lead and carries one game in hand on their Highway 3 rivals.
The Royals are embroiled in a tooth-and-nail fight for the post-season as well. Residing in the B.C. Division of death, Victoria is fourth – four points back of the third place Kelowna Rockets – and remains only one point up on the Portland Winterhawks for the top wild card position in the Western Conference, though the Winterhawks hold one game in hand.
Captain Tyler Wong continues to lead the Hurricanes, registering 78 points (40G-38A) in 54 games so far this season. The 20-year-old product of Cochrane, Alta., is set to easily eclipse the career-high 43 goals he posted over 72 games during the 2015-16 season, in which he also managed a career-high 89 points.
Wong isn’t the only Hurricane the Royals will need to worry about as Buffalo Sabres prospect Giorgio Estephan (26-41—67) and 20-year-old Zak Zborosky (36-27—63) help propel the offense as well.
One season after being named WHL Rookie of the Year and being drafted by the NHL’s Calgary Flames (sixth round, 166th) Matthew Phillips is also enjoying a career campaign for the Royals, having already set a new personal mark for goals with 40 in 56 games. The shifty 5-foot-6, 141-pound centre has 69 points to his credit a year after putting up 76 points in 72 contests.
In net, 2017 NHL Draft eligible Stuart Skinner is enjoying a second half resurgence for the Hurricanes. Since appearing in the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Quebec City on Jan. 30, Skinner returned to Lethbridge and has gone 4-1-0-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and one shutout. His efforts in that first week back from the Top Prospects Game earned him recognition as both the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week.
Griffen Outhouse carries the Royals crown in the crease. A human highlight reel, the 18-year-old product of Williams Lake, B.C., was named WHL Goaltender of the Week to start 2017 and ranks among WHL leaders in a handful of goaltending categories, including goals-against average (fourth – 2.62); save percentage (fourth – .921); wins (T-1st – 30); shutouts (second – four); saves (first – 1,534); and minutes played (first – 2,996).
Friday’s contest marks the third and final regular season outing of the year between the Hurricanes and Royals.
The last time the two teams met, the Royals claimed a 3-2 shootout victory over the Hurricanes on Nov. 4 at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria. Kaid Oliver was the skills competition hero, ending an 11-round doozy, beating Skinner to give the Royals the extra point. Outhouse starred, making 36 saves plus another eight in the shootout.
— LethbridgeHurricanes (@WHLHurricanes) February 16, 2017
Head coach: Brent Kisio
Leading scorers: RW Tyler Wong (40-38—78); C Giorgio Estephan (26-41—67); RW Zak Zborosky (36-27—63)
Leading goaltender: Stuart Skinner (49GP, 28-14-3-2, 3.24 GAA, .906 SV%, 2 SO)
Power play: Fifth – 24.9 per cent
Penalty kill: 13th – 78.3 per cent
The Royals were bested 3-1 by the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday night.
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) February 16, 2017
Head coach: Dave Lowry
Leading scorers: C Matthew Phillips (40-29—69); LW Jack Walker (24-32—56); C Tyler Soy (25-30—55)
Leading goaltender: Griffen Outhouse (53GP, 30-20-3-0, 2.62 GAA, .921 SV%, 4 SO)
Power play: 14th – 19.1 per cent
Penalty kill: 11th – 79.7 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Ryan Peckford (upper body, six to seven weeks); F Tyler Soy (upper body, week to week); F Jared Dmytriw (suspension)
Oct. 12 – Victoria (2) at Lethbridge (5)
Nov. 4 – Lethbridge (2) at Victoria (3) – SO
Feb. 17 – Victoria at Lethbridge
WHL on Shaw schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 22 – Regina Pats at Saskatoon Blades
Friday, Feb. 24 – Kelowna Rockets at Kamloops Blazers