WHL Gameday Preview: Friday, October 11th, 2019

DUBNetwork Feature Game of the Night: October 11, 2019, Victoria Royals 2-3-0-0 @ Tri-City Americans 3-3-0-0 7:05 PM (PDT)

After a five-game road trip to begin the year the Tri-City Americans play just their second game at home, as they host the Victoria Royals.

Coming off a successful three wins out of five-game road trip to start the season, Tri-City is back home. The Americans home, the Toyota Centre, finished up their renovations and Tri-City played their home opener last Sunday. Unfortunately for the Americans, it was a home opener to forget, a 7-1 loss to division rivals Spokane Chiefs.

Keanu Derungs with the puck versus Prince George (photo-Gord Rufh)

Victoria is coming off back to back losses over a couple of other U.S. Division opponents, the Seattle Thunderbirds and most recently a 3-2 loss to the Everett Silvertips Wednesday night.

Tri-City has won five of the last eight meetings between the two teams.

Early in the season, Victoria has been led by their first-round import draft pick Keanu Derungs. From Kloten, Switzerland, Derungs has put up two goals and two assists in the Royals’ first five games.

Prior to the regular season, the Royals made a couple of moves to try and improve the overall depth of the team. First, they acquired forward Graeme Bryks from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft.

In 48 games with the Thunderbirds last season, Bryks recorded eight points, one goal, and seven assists. Victoria then acquired defenceman Jacob Herauf from the Red Deer Rebels. The Royals had to give up a lot in the exchange, including a second-round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft, a sixth-round pick in 2021 and a conditional pick in 2022.

Kyle Olson (photo-Doug Love)

Herauf, In 66 games with the Rebels last season, recorded 16 points and 45 penalty minutes. Jacob has
disappointed early on picking up just one goal and two assists to lead the Royals defense. Victoria hasn’t liked playing the U.S. Division early on this year dropping all three games. For Victoria to be successful they will have to tighten up their penalty kill, having already given up six goals on 24 opportunities.

Coming off their 7-1 home opener loss to Spokane, Tri-City is looking to captain Kyle Olson to get the team out of their two-game losing streak. Olson was just returned to the team last week, after attending the Rochester Americans training camp on a tryout. Olson, who will be playing in only his second game since his return, had 70 points last season including 49 assists.

Krystof Hrabik (photo-Doug Love)

Olson wasn’t the only member of Tri-City to return to the club last week. Krystof Hrabik who had been with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. Hrabik signed a two-year AHL contract and then in a corresponding move San Jose has loaned Hrabik to Tri-City for the 2019-20 season. From Praha, Czech Republic, he played 63 games for the Americans, totaling 51 points including 21 goals in his first year in the WHL last season. Hrabik also represented Team Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship in 2018 and 2019. With the two players returning to the team, Tri-City had to make a move this week with one of their overage players. The team traded a 20-year-old defenseman, Dominic Schmiemann, to the Brandon Wheat Kings for two WHL Bantam Draft picks. Tri-City will receive a fifth-round pick in 2020 and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2022.

Playing in five games this season Sasha Mutala is leading the team offensively. The 2016 WHL first-round draft choice, Mutala has posted nine points in the team’s first six games. In his second year in the league, Sasha put up 41 points which included his first 20 goal campaign, something he is looking to build off of. The power play has been on fire to start the year operating at 26.09 percent.

Shane Farkas in action versus Everett (photo-Gord Rufh)

Expected in goal:
Shane Farkas (Victoria) – Farkas, is in his fourth year in the WHL, his first season with the
Royals. He is coming off a season where he posted 30 wins in 50 appearances with the
Portland Winterhawks. He had a 2.71 GAA and a .906 SAV% and four shut-outs.

Beck Warm (Tri-City)-Warm, is in his fourth full season in the WHL all with the Americans.
Last year he appeared in 61 games, winning 32. Warm posted a 2.94 GAA and a .916
SAV% with one shut-out in those games.

Also in action:

Saskatoon Blades @Brandon Wheat Kings 7:30pm CDT

Jiri Patera is out for the Wheat Kings. This paves the way for Ethan Kruger‘s third appearance. He has a 2.53 GAA and .926 save percentage over his first two games.

Blake Allan-Boston Bilous (photo-Lucas Chudleigh Apollo Multimedia)

Vancouver Giants @Moose Jaw Warriors 7pm MDT

-The Warriors, who snagged Brodan Salmond off the overage scrap heap last season and found success, seem to have repeated that feat with Bailey Brkin. He leads the WHL in save percentage (.941) and is third in GAA (1.83) among goalies who have played at least three games. Carson Denomie also has at least a point in every game so far this season for Moose Jaw.

Lethbridge Hurricanes @Prince Albert Raiders 7pm MDT

-The Raiders are feeling comfortable with Boston Bilous as the main man between the pipes. Bilous leads all WHL goalies who have played at least three games in GAA (1.46) and is fourth in save percentage (.926).

Portland Winterhawks @Red Deer Rebels 7pm MDT

-The Winterhawks snapped their three-game skid on Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos. Reece Newkirk seems to be rounding into form with a four-point night in that game. He now faces a strong test in Rebels goalie Ethan Anders.

Winnipeg ICE @Medicine Hat Tigers 7:30pm MDT

-First-year players have given the ICE a big boost. None of their top four scorers in imports Michal Teply and Nino Kinder, overage forward Isaac Johnson and 16-year-old d-man Carson Lambos played for the ICE in Cranbrook, full-time last season.

Reece Newkirk (photo-Keith Dwiggins/Portland Winterhawks)

Prince George Cougars @Spokane Chiefs 7:05pm PDT

Ty Smith‘s return was a big boost for the Chiefs power play. They are now 28.6 percent over their first six games. The Cougars will need to stay out of the box or have their 71.4 percent penalty kill improve drastically. They should get defenseman Cole Moberg back to the lineup which is a big boost.

Bryce Kindopp (photo-Chris Mast)

Kamloops Blazers @Everett Silvertips 7:35pm PDT

-The Blazers and goalie Dylan Garand will try and slow down Bryce Kindopp and the Silvertips. Kindopp has had back-to-back two-goal games and leads the WHL in scoring with 14 points in just six games. Connor Zary is riding a seven-game point streak for the Blazers.

Kelowna Rockets @Seattle Thunderbirds 7:35pm PDT

-It’s the return to Kent for Dillon Hamaliuk, Jake Lee and Cole Schwebius after they were dealt to the Rockets this past summer. Conner Bruggen-Cate will also get to play against his old team.

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