The Richmond Royals did not have the type of start to 2024 that they were hoping for.
After being off since December 21, the local Junior B team was back in action Sunday afternoon (January 7) against the Arnprior Packers. A familiar face returned to the Richmond Memorial Community Centre in former Royals goalie Mavric Welk. In his first game back in the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League after spending the first half of the season in Atlantic Canada, Welk backstopped the Packers to a convincing 6-1 win over his former team.
After a strong season with the Royals last year, Welk, who turned 18 last week, began the season in camp with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He played nine games for the Fredericton Red Wings and three for the Truro Wildcats in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League before returning closer to his Golden Lake home to play for Arnprior.
Regardless of Welk being named the game’s first star, goaltending had little to do with the Arnprior win. They outshot the Royals 50-22 in the contest.
The teams exchanged goals in the first period. Jason Ward scored his eighth of the season for the Packers before Reid Johnston countered with a Royals power play goal from Connor Buffam.
Brendan Lynch scored twice for Arnprior in the second period, while Brett Richardson, Jake Coleman and Sean Ireland scored in the third.
Welk stopped 21 of 22 shots in the win. Richmond’s Ethan Dinsdale stopped 44 of the 50 shots he faced.
The loss drops the Royals down to second place in the EOJHL Richardson Division with 40 points. Carleton Place beat Renfrew 3-2 Sunday night, vaulting them into first place with 42 points, though Richmond has three games in hand. Arnprior is also in the mix as they sit in third with 38 points.
The Royals have a return match with the Packers at the Nick Smith Centre in Arnprior Friday night at 7:30 p.m. They return to home ice against the Carleton Place Canadians Sun., Jan. 14. Face-off is at 1:20 p.m.