Kaid Oliver had a tough end to a breakout year.
The Victoria Royals forward caught many by surprise with a sudden surge of offense this past season. Along with his strong defensive game and strong face-off abilities, Oliver evolved into one of the Royals’ key players.
Unfortunately for Victoria, Oliver suffered a shoulder injury late in February that caused him to miss the playoffs.
When asked how it felt to have watch the playoff run from the pressbox, Oliver said “It wasn’t fun to sit up there. You want to be in the lineup and help the guys as much as possible. But it’s hockey, everybody gets hurt. It’s just a matter of how you take it and move forward. I just had to be positive with it more than anything else. Hopefully next year, I can keep a bit healthier and go further with the team.”
Oliver started the 2018-19 campaign at a pace that saw him explode offensively.
Racking up 22 points in his first 20 games, the native of White Rock, BC was scoring big goals for his club. Of his first five goals, two were scored short-handed, two on the powerplay and the fifth was an overtime game-winning goal against the rival Vancouver Giants.
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) October 14, 2018
Even with the injury, Oliver finished the season as the leading scorer on the Royals, with 27 goals and 22 assists. Those numbers were a huge improvement over his previous best of six goals and 22 assists in the 2017-2018 season.
When Royals’ Head Coach Dan Price was asked at the time about the evolution of Oliver’s game, he said “Kaid’s been underrated for a lot of his time here, because he’s had older players ahead of him in the lineup. it’s another example of as we talked about the start of the year, what’s the process when players A, B, and C graduate? The players that have been working so hard for their opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity, and Kaid is just one example of many in that way.”
Part of taking on opportunity included Oliver playing a key part in Victoria’s high pressure penalty kill, something that continued to be successful for the club. Inheriting the role from Matthew Phillips, Oliver successfully played the forward who buzzed the opposing defencemen while they were on the powerplay, looking to force turnovers and steals.
For Oliver there is no secret to his sudden success, just hard work.
“I’m hoping every year to improve. Every year to get just a little bit better. Work hard everyday and you will see improvement. For my 16-year-old season till now it’s been it’s been a grind, but a fun grind.”
With his overall commitment paired with his likable nature, Oliver looks poised for more of a leadership role.
“I’m ready for it. I think every year you’ve got to step up a little bit more. This league goes by fast. You go from a 16-year-old to an overager in just a short time so you have to mature pretty fast.”
Oliver will use the offseason to recover fully from his injury. While he is no longer underrated, the Royals are hoping their forward can continue his development into next season.