Gameday Preview: Tri-City Americans @ Victoria Royals

DUBNetwork Feature Game of the Night: Tri-City Americans (14-20-4-1) @ Victoria Royals (24-13-3-0) 7:05 PM

With the additions of Brayden Tracey and Adam Evanoff, the cat is out of the bag. The Victoria Royals are going for it this season and it will not be quietly anymore. With 28 games to play (and one more than the Kamloops Blazers) the Royals sit six points back of the division lead. Their story has been a great one, as the team has dealt with injuries at various times to key players such as Gary Haden, Carson Miller, Tarun Fizer, and Phillip Schultz.

The Tri-City Americans have struggled all season with getting on track and at the deadline general manager Bob Tory was busy making moves to stabilize his club and prepare it for the future. Gone are names like Kyle Olson, Beck Warm, Riley Stuart, Samuel Stewart and Jan Cikhart. The team will rely on Sasha Mutala and Connor Bouchard heading down the stretch.

Speaking of Mutala, he leads the offensively struggling Americans in goals and assists this season. The 18-yer-old was selected by the Colorado Avalanche at last year’s draft and has been looked upon to provide the elite scoring for the team this year. He has 15 goals and 31 assists. Connor Bouchard is also 18 years old and provides some scoring touch for the Americans. Bouchard has contributed nine goals and 23 assists, already surpassing his totals for last season.

Since coming over from the Kamloops Blazers, Luke Zazula has stepped in to lead the charges from the blue line. He has three goals and nine assists in 16 games since dawning the red, white and blue jersey. Not far behind him is rookie defenseman Marc Lajoie. The 16-year-old defenseman has 11 points in 39 games for the young team.

On the Royals side, the team’s offense picked up with the addition of Brayden Tracey, who has four points in three games as a member of the team. He leads the team in overall scoring with 17 goals and 25 assists. Fizer (11G,22A) and Haden (14G,18A) round out the top three scorers for the Royals. 17-year-old rookie import Keanu Derungs has 11 goals and 12 assists through 25 games in North America.

The defense is lead by Will Warm and Mitch Prowse. 19-year-old Prowse has two goals and 14 assists from the point while 20-year-old Warm has three goals and 10 assists.

The Royals now have two weapons in net with the addition of Evanoff. They are likely to go back to Shane Farkas between the pipes following a 6-5 loss to the Winterhawks in Evanoff’s last start. Farkas has a sparkling 2.11 goals-against average and excellent .932 save percentage, both stats are among the league leaders. His 18-7-1-0 record is a big part of the Royals success this season.

Boyko got the start last night and is likely to get another start in net as he has seen action in six games since the holiday break. He is 5-5-1-0 and has a 3.81 goals-against average paired with a .907 save percentage.

This is the fourth meeting between these two teams, Victoria has yet to lose in regulation going 2-0-1-0 against Tri-City.

In other WHL action:

Prince George Cougars (11-23-3-4) @ Brandon Wheat Kings (21-17-1-2)

The Cougars are playing their second last game of their East Division road trip. The team is 1-1-1-1, with the lone win coming against the Saskatoon Blades. Despite their record this season, the Cougars are eight points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Brandon has been one of the hottest teams in the WHL of late, they are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games. Their play has them just eight points back of the first place Winnipeg ICE in the East Division. This is the only game between these two clubs this season.

Calgary Hitmen (21-13-4-1) @ Swift Current Broncos (9-27-1-2)

Despite finding themselves in a precarious situation on the back end with the injury to Egor Zamula, the Hitmen continue to plug along. The team has six wins in its last 10 games and sit comfortably four points ahead of the team chasing them in the wild card hunt and a further 11 points ahead of ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Swift Current has struggled all season and are 22 points out of a playoff spot. They have just three wins in their last 10 games. Calgary is 1-0-1-0 against Swift Current this season.

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