Victoria Royals return to WHL playoffs for the first time since 2019


After a long drought, the Victoria Royals will finally play a playoff series.

Their opening round series starts Friday night in Portland, Oregon, but Royals head coach James Patrick doesn’t see his team as first round fodder for the heavily favoured Portland Winterhawks.

“I’ve heard someone say we’ve got nothing to lose,” he says. “I don’t buy that. We’re super pumped for this experience, but we’re not just happy to be here.”

Regardless of the outcome, it’s the last playoff run for the team’s 20 year-old players. For leading scorer Dawson Pasternak, it’s also his first, and it’s coming against his former team.

He played for Portland from 2021-23 but didn’t see any postseason action.

“I think we’ve had some pretty good matchups against Portland all year. We’re a good team. Don’t take us for granted,” he told CHEK News.

The Royals finished this season a game under .500 at 29-30-5-4, while the Winterhawks cruised to a second place finish at 48-15-4-1. Games 1 and 2 are set for Friday and Saturday in Portland before the series shifts back to Victoria for games 3 and 4 on April 2 and 3 – and if necessary, game 5 on Friday, April 5.

With a home crowd that hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2019, the Royals are counting on a boost starting in game 3.

“We’re going to need Victoria to support us,” says goalie Braden Holt, one of only five Royals players with WHL playoff experience.

The 20 year-old played eight games with the Everett Silvertips over two seasons, and welcomes the pressure.

“These are the games you grow up wanting to play in. Sure it’s stressful but you got to embrace it,” he says.

Game 1 of the series starts Friday in Portland at 7 p.m. Tuesday’s game 3 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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