The Victoria Royals and the Vancouver Giants have a geographically natural rivalry between the two sides of the Strait. But it goes further than that for Giants rookie center Ty Halaburda, originally from Victoria.
“Even our home games are only a ferry ride away for my family and friends,” Halaburda said of the Langley Events Center.
This is where the Giants and Royals met on Friday night in a late game in the Western Hockey League. The teams were tied 3-3 after two periods at press time. The derby continues across the strait tonight at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Center.
“The first game of my WHL career was in my hometown when we faced the Royals at the start of the season and it was something special that I will never forget,” said Halaburda, five footer. 11 inches and 165 pounds, who also played lacrosse. .
Royals fans should get used to seeing him as a thorn in the side for many seasons to come. Halaburda is one of the few players to enter the WHL at 16.
“It was cool to be part of the team and I want to make the most of this opportunity and make a good impression,” he said.
That’s exactly what he did with three goals and nine points in 18 games for the Giants. He also scored two goals for Team Canada Noirs last week in their 5-4 win over Team Canada Reds at the Capital City Challenge U-17 tournament in Ottawa, which featured most of the Canadian players heading into the 2023 draft. of the NHL.
“It was a huge confidence factor in me to experience new players, your age and in a national setting,” said Halaburda.
One of them wasn’t so new with old nemesis Matthew Wood of the BCHL Victoria Grizzlies, who was on Team Canada Red. The two grew up playing against each other in their respective teams of South Island and North Island representatives.
“It was cool to have two Islanders in the final,” said Halaburda.
“Matthew is a hell of a player and we grew up face to face on the island.”
Straight up to you, Wood said, “Ty [Halaburda] is a super-fast skater and 200-foot player. I really like his game.
A special element of the tournament was the participation of Canada’s National Women’s Team as they prepare for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
“It was great and a real honor to skate against them and meet them,” said Halaburda.
“I grew up knowing all the names. [Two-time Olympic gold-medallist] Marie-Philip Poulin is a hell of a player to face.
As for all the NHL scouts there, Halaburda said he didn’t give them any notice, “I don’t think of that sort of thing. I just want to play my game, which is a fast 200 foot game. I love to play and be creative, but also to be reliable in the defensive zone as a lockdown player. “
These attributes became evident during his minor hockey debut Juan de Fuca and have continued. The Giants won Halaburda in the second round, 32nd overall, in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft from the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Langford, where he captained the Sea Devils U-15 squad and played on a line with Ollie Josephson, who was placed fifth overall in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft this week.
Games against the Royals will always be mentally surrounded in Halaburda’s mind.
“I know I’m going to be getting up for these games this weekend,” said Halaburda, who is part of a Giants roster that also includes Victoria’s Payton Mount and Julian Cull and Duncan’s Will Gurski.
The resurgent Royals started Friday night with five wins in their last six games and have scored points in eight of their last nine. The Giants entered the weekend set after appearing in six games winning streak interrupted by a 7-1 loss Wednesday in Kamloops to the Blazers.