Kaid Oliver steps up
Clutch Kaid? King Kaid? There must be a fitting moniker reflective of the quality of play Kaid Oliver is giving his team so far this season. Close followers of the Royals know that Oliver has always been a committed player, always trying to get better. “He’s been underrated for a lot of his time here, because he’s had older players ahead of him in the lineup,” said Head Coach Dan Price. “He works so hard every day on the ice, off the ice. He does exactly what you ask him to do as far as executing things on the ice in every situation.”
But a hot start of four goals in six games, after tallying just six total all last season, has people wondering what he has changed. When asked about the sudden offense, Oliver commented “I guess right place at the right time. Maybe because I’m a little bit older. My billet family asked me why I’m scoring so much, as they’re not feeding me anything different. I’m just trying to be like Philly (Matthew Phillips) a bit,” said Oliver with a laugh.
He works so hard every day on the ice, off the ice. He does exactly what you ask him to do as far as executing things on the ice in every situation. -Royals Head Coach Dan Price
His four goals have come on special teams, with two short-handed and a pair on the power play. When asked if having a goalie with the skill-set of Griffen Outhouse to practice against helps, Oliver replied “Griff is always awesome to shoot on. Whenever you get a chance to shoot on high level goaltenders, you get a little bit better. You have to shoot on him in a little bit tighter spot.”
Ever the teammate, Oliver is quick to point out the combined effort behind the Victoria’s hot start. “It’s a group effort. Everybody wants to work hard and wants to win so it’s working well, coming together as a group and wanting the same goal.”
“It’s nice to see him have success and be rewarded for all the hard work and it’s another example of as we talked about the start of the year,” commented Price. “What’s the process or what’s the mindset 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.”
Royals roll on the road
The Royals departed for their first road trip of the season. Although this was a mini-road trip compared to previous October lengthy hauls out east, Victoria must be happy with the results. Two more key victories against division rivals and a chance for the young team to bond on the road. “It was really good for the guys to be able to spend some time together on the road,” recalled Price at practice this week. “You’re in close quarters on the bus, at the hotel. All those kinds of things that can really help galvanize the guys. They are already very close as a group but that definitely helped bring them even closer. Those are two tough games and tough buildings to play in. Kelowna pushed really hard and gave us everything they had, Kamloops as well.“
Royals hang on to defeat Rockets (Victoria defeats Kelowna 4-3)
Victoria struck early in the first to go up 2-0, including a Dante Hannoun goal at just 1:26 in. Hannoun ripped down the wing and wristed it home from the face-off dot. Oliver took a backdoor feed to add a power-play goal at 11:16, which was immediately answered by Kelowna eight seconds later. Liam Kindree scored to make it 2-1 off a turnover by the Royals in their own end. The Royals fired home two more power play goals in the second, with Hannoun getting his second of the night and Jerome the other marker that had to go to video review. Kelowna looked to be climbing back, as Lassi Thomson hammered a power play goal for the Rockets, making it 4-2 with 10 minutes to go. Kelowna would add another to make it close, with Leif Mattson scoring a messy goal at 12:31 of the third period. Victoria dug in and suppressed the comeback, with Hannoun’s two-goal night earning him the game’s first star.
Saturday night shutdown (Victoria defeats Kamloops 2-1)
A pair of the 20-year-olds carried Victoria to victory as Dante Hannoun and Griffen Outhouse were key in the Royals defeating Kamloops for a third straight time. Outhouse continued his fine play in this early season, stopping 26 of 27 shots to earn his sixth victory and the game’s first star. Kamloops opened the scoring at 1:55 of the second as Connor Zary netted his second of the year. Oliver then muscled home a loose puck in the crease to tie the game after it took a Victoria bounce off the end glass. Hannoun was the hero as he netted the game winner at 9:21 of the third on a nice tip on a Mitchell Prowse point shot. Dylan Garand (’02) made his first start of the season for the Blazers, and the Victoria product played well in stopping 20-of-22 shots.