Marcus Almquist has been in Victoria for a little more than a month, and life in his new home is working out just fine.
“It’s a little bit different from the weather, but it’s a great city, great people, nice and beautiful,” says the 18-year-old.
Almquist’s first impressions of Victoria are high. So too are the qualities on the ice the forward from Denmark brings to his new team.
“He’s really skilled and shifty player, he’s super poised with the puck and he’s really good on the power play, so we’re really lucky to have him,” said forward Evan Patrician
“He’s going to be sort of an X-factor at times,” added Royals’ associate head coach and assistant general manager, J.F. Best.
“I’ve worked with him in the past and he’s kind of a game-breaker type player, like you don’t see him coming, then all of a sudden there’s a break-away and there’s a goal, or like something out of nothing, that’s the kind of exciting player he is.”
The Royals selected Almquist in the 2020 CHL Import Draft, and he was quickly welcomed to the team by a player who went through the same experience a year earlier.
“When he got drafted, I texted him saying that if he has any questions, just let me know,” said forward Keanu Derungs, a 2019 CHL Import Draft pick of the Royals.
“Philip Schultz did that to me too, my first year, and he helped me out a lot, and I just tried to do that, and give that to Marcus too.”
“He’s a great teammate and he helped me a lot, so it’s nice to have some support when you come from Europe,” Almquist said of Derungs, who is in his third season in Victoria.
The 19-year-old from Switzerland came into this Western Hockey League season focused on having a bigger role on the ice, and in the dressing room.
“My first year coming in, I just tried to do my best and go day-by-day, go year-by-year, and just establish myself as a leader and I think I’m doing a good job at it,” Derungs said.
“It’s a pretty hard league and I think I’ve become stronger, better in the battles too.”
“He’s really matured like he’s a young man now and he’s definitely one of the glue guys in the room, he’s popular with everybody, he cares about everybody, so he’s a guy that certainly has a presence amongst the group,” added Best.
For European players, one of the biggest adjustments is the smaller ice surface. But it’s one not slowing down the newest Royal.
“Less space to skate on, so it’s been harder, but it’s been fun and exciting to try it,” said Alquist.
Both Alquist and Derungs are hoping to play for their respective countries at the upcoming IIHF World U20 Hockey Championship.