SAVE-ON-FOODS MEMORIAL CENTRE
1925 Blanshard Street
Victoria, BC V8T 4J2
YEAR BUILT - 2005
CAPACITY - 7,006 including 26 luxury suites
Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre is the largest arena on Vancouver Island. It is home to the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and previous home to the Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL) from 2004-2011. It occupies the site where Victoria Memorial Arena (1949-2003) once stood.
The arena opened on March 26, 2005, with a concert by Rod Stewart. The City of Victoria received the final building occupancy permit just hours before Stewart went on stage.
The first hockey game took place on September 10, 2005. A crowd of 2,491 watched the Victoria Salsa defeat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-1. The Salsa had to relocate a couple of their September home games because the Q Centre was hosting the Victoria Shamrocks in the Mann Cup Finals.
Other notable events include the WHL vs Russia Super Series (2009 and 2012), World Junior Hockey Championship (2019), World Curling Championship (2005 and 2013), Canadian Figure Skating Championship (2011) and the Vancouver Canucks training camp (2019).
Inside the Arena
Players Entrance - One of the unique features of the arena is the home team’s dressing room. It is located in the fan concourse, so security temporarily blocks the walkway when players go back and forth from the dressing room to the ice.
Lions Den Restaurant - Open 5:30 on game nights, it offers a pre-game all-you-can-eat buffet. It is open to all ticket holders, but a dinner and ticket package is also available to watch the game from a rail seat inside the restaurant. The Lions Den bar is the only place in the arena where hard liquor is available.
Club Section - Club seats are padded and have exclusive access to the Kings Club Lounge. The top row has seats that are accessible without using stairs. Unlike Club sections in other venues, seats face the penalty box instead of the player benches.
Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame - The Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena is also home to the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame with displays throughout the concourse.
Banners - The Victoria Royals have two banners hanging in the rafters of Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre:
2016/17 - Western Division Title
2016/17 - Regular Season Champions
There are two other banners located behind the bar in the Lions Den Restaurant:
1911 - Victoria Cougars Stanley Cup
2008 - Victoria Salmon Kings West Division Title
The Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame has possession of the Victoria Cougars 1980-81 Western Hockey League Championship banner but the Royals choose to keep it in storage and not display it.
Lost History - Even though it houses the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, there is no mention of the Victoria Cougars WHL franchise anywhere in the arena.
The club was founded as the Chilliwack Bruins in 2006/07. After the 2010/11 season, RG Properties Ltd. purchased the Bruins and relocated the franchise to Victoria. It marked the return of the WHL to Victoria after the Cougars moved to Prince George in 1994.
The first game in Victoria Royals history was a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Giants. The Royals debuted at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre the next night in front of a sold-out crowd on September 24, 2011, defeating the Vancouver Giants 5–3.
The Royals have made the playoffs every year in Victoria but have never advanced past the second round. In 2016/17 they finished with the best record in the Western Hockey League with 130 points. That year they lost a close second-round series to the Kelowna Rockets. The loss in the series-deciding game seven was especially devastating as the Royals blew a late 4-2 lead. Kelowna scored twice in the final two minutes, including the tying goal with less than a second left in the regulation and went on to win in overtime.
There have been three head coaches in Royals franchise history- Marc Habshied 2011/12 (now with Prince Albert), Dave Lowry 2012-17 (now with the Winnipeg Jets) and current head coach Dan Price (2017 to present)
Joe Hicketts - Drafted 12th overall by Victoria in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, Hicketts played four seasons with the Royals between 2012 and 2016. He represented Canada at two World Junior Hockey Championships, winning a gold medal in 2015 and a sixth-place finish in 2016. On January 22, 2018, Hicketts debuted with the Detroit Red Wings becoming the first Royals player to appear in an NHL game.
Victoria Salmon Kings
The Salmon Kings were the first tenants of Save-On-Food Memorial Centre. The team came to Victoria after RG Properties Ltd. bought the franchise rights to the defunct Baton Rouge Kingfish in 2004. With ex-NHL player Bryan Maxwell as their Coach/GM, the Salmon Kings made their debut in 2004/05.
They played their inaugural season at the Q Centre in Colwood because Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre was still under construction. Victoria only won 15 games their first year and set an ECHL record with a twenty-game winless streak. There was no NHL season in 2004/05 because of a player lockout, so the Salmon Kings added NHL veterans Mark Smith, Dan Blackburn and Dale Purinton for part of the year.
The Salmon Kings moved to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre for the 2005/06 season, playing their first home game on November 10, 2005, versus the Stockton Thunder. They finished the season out of the playoffs for a second straight season with a record of 26-37-5-4.
In 2007, The Salmon Kings hired Mark Morrison, the Victoria Cougars all-time point leader, as their head coach. Morrison guided the Salmon Kings to five straight playoff appearances. In 2007-08, they won the West Division Title (their only division title in franchise history). Victoria's best playoff performance was in 2010/11 when they advanced to the ECHL semi-finals.
When RG Properties Ltd. bought the Chilliwack Bruins in 2011 and relocated the franchise to Victoria, the Salmon Kings ceased operations. In seven seasons in Victoria, the Salmon Kings played 504 games finishing with a record of 223-239-21-21.
Salmon Kings Alumni
Wes Goldie - The Salmon Kings franchise leader in career games (288), goals (175) and points (263). He retired in 2012 and remains the ECHL's all-time leader in career goals with 370. In 2004, Goldie was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame.
Steve Lingren - Played three years with the Victoria Cougars from 1992 to 1994. Lingren and Mike Barrie are the only players to skate for both the Victoria Cougars and the Victoria Salmon Kings. Lingren retired in 2007 after two seasons with the Salmon Kings and holds the franchise record for most points in a season by a defenseman (47). Born in Lake Cowichan, Lingren is now the head instructor of the Lake Cowichan Summer Hockey School.
Ryan Wade - Born in Victoria, Wade was a Salmon King for their entire seven-year existence. After attending the University of Alberta, he played three years with the Salmon Kings from 2004 to 2008. Wade retired in 2008 to become an assistant coach and remained in that position until the team disbanded in 2011.