PREVIEW: Giants at T-Birds (Game #6)
After spending the past two weeks at home the Vancouver Giants are ready for the road. Tonight the G-Men begin a stretch of seven games in a span of 12 nights, all of which will take place on the road. The first test: The reigning WHL champs, the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Head Coach: Matt O’Dette
Home Record: 2-1-0-0
Last Game: A 4-3 road victory Sunday in Kamloops
Power Play: 33.3% (3rd in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 80.8% (10th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Sami Moilanen: (6GP – 7G – 2A – 9PTS), Austin Strand (6GP – 3G – 6A – 9PTS), Donovan Neuls (6GP – 1G – 6A – 7PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Sami Moilanen: The 18-year-old forward leads all T-Birds with seven goals and is tied for the lead in points with nine. Last season he had 21 goals and 22 assists in his rookie season.
Donovan Neuls: The Seattle captain has a goal and six assists for seven points so far this season. The 20-year-old had a goal and three assists in four games against the Giants last season, which leads all active returning Seattle forwards.
WHO’S ON D:
Jarret Tyszka: The Montreal Canadiens prospect has six assists in six games for Seattle, four of which have come via the power play. Given Turner Ottenbreit’s suspension, Tyszka should play a tonight tonight against Vancouver.
Austin Strand: The 20-year-old has three goals for Seattle so far, all of which have come via the power play. Since joining the T-Birds in a trade last year with Red Deer, Strand has really blossomed and he along with Tyszka provide a solid veteran presence for Seattle.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Matt Berlin: The injury to Carl Stankowski has forced 19-year-old Matt Berlin into starting duty and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s 3-1-0-1 with a 3.34 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage. His backup is former Oil King Liam Hughes.
Power Play: Coming into tonight, nearly a third of Seattle’s 22 goals have been scored via the man-advantage. Austin Strand, Jarret Tyszka and Sami Moilanen have supplied a bulk of the power play offense, and if given the opportunity this is a confident group that can really make an opposing team pay.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Road Record: 0-1-0-0
Last Game: A 4-3 loss at home Saturday to Tri-City
Power Play: 8.3% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 74.1% (15th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (5GP – 4G – 2A – 6PTS), James Malm (5GP – 1G – 5A – 6PTS), Brad Morrison (5GP – 1G – 5A – 6PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
James Malm: Coming into tonight’s game Malm is riding a four-game point streak. In that span he’s registered a goal and five assists. Malm has 25 shots on goal so far this season and it’s only a matter of time before he starts filling the net with more regularity. He’s also won 59 percent of his faceoffs, which is tops on the team.
Milos Roman: The draft eligible forward notched his second goal of the season on Saturday against Tri-City and leads the Giants with a +3 rating so far this season. He contributes in all areas of the ice, and has thrived so far alongside Ty Ronning and Brad Morrison.
WHO’S ON D:
Dylan Plouffe: Plouffe had two assists on Saturday against the Ams and is tied with Roman with a +3 rating to lead the team. The 18-year-old leads all Giants defencemen with 18 shots, and has been used in key defensive situations as well.
Bowen Byram: The rookie continues to impress. His five points is tops among all rookie defencemen. He continues to log big minutes in all situations and continues to show a tact and a maturity well beyond his years.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Todd Scott: The rookie is coming off a tremendous outing Saturday, albeit in a losing cause. Scott made 33 saves on 36 shots faced Saturday against Tri-City and was Vancouver’s best player as he made a number of timely stops against some of the elite Tri-City forwards. Tonight he’ll look to nab his first WHL victory when he players a regular season game south of the border for the first time in his young, promising career.
Confidence: A victory tonight would be huge for the Giants confidence as they get set to play a ton of hockey in a relatively short period of time. Seattle is a notoriously tough building to play in, but the Giants should be up to the task. There were a lot of encouraging things to take away from their home stand, and they’ll look to build off of all those things tonight when they clash with the defending champs.