There was a carnival-like atmosphere at the Cam Neely Arena at Planet Ice as the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants defeated the Victoria Royals 5-1 in exhibition action Saturday afternoon.
More than 700 people filled the stands to watch the two top-tier junior teams.
Marian Gardner, the assistant GM of Planet Ice, said WHL officials commented to her about the lively reception the teams received.
“For that many people to come out on a beautiful, sunny summer afternoon was really quite something,” said Gardner.
The game was made possible by RG Properties, owners of the Planet Ice hockey arenas in Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, and Delta. RG Properties bought and moved the Chilliwack Bruins WHL franchise to Victoria earlier this year.
Gardner said she hopes the exhibition game will become an annual tradition at the local rink.
“We’re hoping we can host another game, thanks to the support we got from the community,” Gardner said.
Both teams had a number of rookies in the line-up as they used the exhibition game to put their prospects through their paces.
The Vancouver Giants controlled the pace of the game from the outset, outshooting the Royals 11-9 while taking a 1-0 lead after the first period thanks to a goal by rookie left-winger Jacob Dunlop.
Rookie centre Teal Burns had a pair of goals in the second period to put the Giants ahead by three.
Steven Hodges put the Royals on the board 32 seconds into the final frame with a power play goal.
But despite out-shooting the Giants 15-4 in the third, the Royals continued to lose ground as Vancouver added a pair of goals to put the game out of reach.
Jordan Martinook and Cain Franson – brother of NHLer Cody Franson – had the Giants’s third period goals.
Proceeds from the event went to support local hockey, with more than $4,000 being raised for the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association and the Meadow Ridge Female Minor Hockey Association.