SAVE-ON-FOODS MEMORIAL CENTRE
1925 Blanshard Street
Victoria, BC V8T 4J2
ARENA WEBSITE - http://sofmc.com/
YEAR BUILT - 2005
CAPACITY - 7,006 including 26 luxury suites
Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre is the largest arena on Vancouver Island and home of the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The arena sits on the site of the original Victoria Memorial Arena that was built in 1948 and demolished in 2001.
The completion date was originally scheduled for the fall of 2003, but the arena was not finished until 2005 due to construction delays.
The first event at the arena was a Rod Stewart concert on March 26, 2005. The construction was completed with the occupancy permit issued just hours before Stewart went on stage.
The first hockey game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre was a BC Junior Hockey League game between the Victoria Salsa and Alberni Valley Bulldogs on September 25, 2005. The home rink for the Salsa, the Q Centre, was being used by the Victoria Shamrocks for the Mann Cup Lacrosse Finals, so the Salsa had to play a few home games at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Other big events at the arena include the Western Hockey League 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 has to temporarily block off the fan walkway to allow players to 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 you can purchase a dinner and ticket package which allows you eat at the buffet and watch the game from a rail seat inside the restaurant. The Lions Den bar is the only place in the arena where you can purchase hard liquor.
Club Seats - Club seats are padded and have exclusive access to the Kings Club Lounge. The top row of the Club section is the only place to sit where there are no stairs required to access seats. Unlike Club seats in other arenas, these seats face the penalty box instead of the players bench.
Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame - The Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena is also home of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame with displays throughout the concourse.
Banners - There are two banners hanging in the rafters of Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. The Victoria Royals 2016/17 Western Division Championship and the 2016/17 Regular Season Championship. Behind the bar in the Lions Den Restaurant you will see the banners of the 2008 Victoria Salmon Kings ECHL Western Division Championship and the 1911 Victoria Cougars Stanley Cup Championship.
The Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame has possession of the Victoria Cougars 1980-81 Western Hockey League Championship banner but the Royals have decided to keep it in storage and not display it.
Lost History - Even though its the home of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame and Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre is located on the site of the original Memorial Arena, there is no mention of the Victoria Cougars WHL franchise anywhere in the arena. With such a rich history of the Victoria Cougars from 1971-1994, it is a shame that there is not any kind of display at the arena.
The Victoria Royals have been playing out of the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre since 2011. The team was originally established as the Chilliwack Bruins in 2006. After the 2010/11 season, the Bruins were sold to RG Properties Ltd. and relocated to Victoria. This marked the return of the WHL to Victoria after the Victoria Cougars moved to Prince George in 1994.
The Royals played their first game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre 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 heartbreaking as the Royals blew a 4-2 lead late in the game as Kelowna scored two goals in the final two minutes including the tying goal with less than a second left in the regulation, and won the game in overtime.
The Royals have had three head coaches since they moved to Victoria - Marc Habshied 2011/12 (now with Prince Albert), Dave Lowry 2012-17 (now with the Brandon Wheat Kings) and current head coach Dan Price (2017 to present)
Joe Hicketts - The most successful player in Royals history appearing in 224 games over four seasons between 2012 and 2016. He represented Canada at two World Junior Hockey Championships and won a gold medal in 2015. He is the only Royals player to play in the National Hockey League. He went undrafted in the NHL entry draft but signed a contract with the Detroit in 2014 and made his Red Wings debut on January 22, 2018.
Victoria Salmon Kings
The Salmon Kings were the first tenants of Save-On-Food Memorial Centre. They came to Victoria after RG Properties Ltd. bought the franchise rights to the defunct Baton Rouge Kingfish of the ECHL in 2004. The team’s first season was in 2004/05 and lasted seven years until 2011. When RG Properties Ltd. bought the Chilliwack Bruins and moved the franchise to Victoria in 2011, the Salmon Kings were dissolved.
The Salmon Kings played their first season in 2004/05 at the Q Centre in Colwood while the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre was being constructed. The team only won 15 games their first year and set an ECHL record with a twenty game winless streak. 2004/05 was also the season of the the NHL lockout and the Salmon Kings had NHL veterans Mark Smith, Dan Blackburn and Dale Purinton on the team for part of the year.
The Salmon Kings moved to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre for the 2005/06 season, playing their first game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre 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.
From 2007-2011 the Salmon Kings were coached by former Victoria Cougars player Mark Morrison who guided them to the playoffs every year. In 2007-08 they won the Pacific Division Title (their only division title in franchise history) but lost in the second round. In 2010/11, the Salmon Kings final year, they had a losing record during the regular season but in the playoffs advanced to the ECHL semi-finals.
Salmon Kings Alumni
Wes Goldie - played four years with the Salmon Kings from 2006 to 2010 and is the franchise leader in games (288), goals (175) and points (263). He retired in 2012 and remains the ECHL's all-time leader in career goals with 370. Goldie was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2004.
Steve Lingren - Played three years with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League 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). He was born in Lake Cowichan and is now the head instructor of the Lake Cowichan Summer Hockey School.
Ryan Wade - Born in Victoria, he was with the Salmon Kings for their entire seven year existence. After four years at the University of Alberta, he played three years with the Salmon Kings from 2004 to 2008. He retired to become an assistant coach under Mark Morrison and was with the team until they disbanded in 2011.