This afternoon in Langley, the Vancouver Giants will look to put a bow on what has already been a terrific exhibition season. After rattling off three consecutive victories and winning four of their last five in total, the Giants will battle the Everett Silvertips on home ice today with the goal of finishing this weekend off with the best record among the four visiting clubs.
Head Coach: Dennis Williams
Preseason Record: 3-1-0-0
Preseason Scoring Leaders: Connor Dewar (4GP – 4G – 3A – 7PTS), Matt Fonteyne (2G – 5A – 7PTS), Patrick Bajkov (3GP – 3G – 2A – 5PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Connor Dewar: The 18-year-old Dewar looks poised and ready to break out in 2017-18. Last season he was no slouch collecting 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points while playing in all but one of the Silvertips 72 games. He leads all Everett skaters with four goals so far in the preseason.
Patrick Bajkov: The 20-year-old has been the epitome of consistency and durability in recent seasons. He’s played in 71 games in each of the past two seasons for Everett and is coming off a season where he potted 29 goals to go alongside 49 assists for 78 points. In his swan song season, look for Bajkov to improve further upon those totals in 2017-18.
WHO’S ON D:
Kevin Davis: With Noah Juulsen likely headed to the pros a lot of the defensive onus is now going to fall on the shoulders of Kevin Davis. Last season he played in all 72 games for the Tips and managed nine goals to compliment his 50 assists. He was a +17 as well which means he can be trusted in all areas of the ice.
Jake Christensen: The 18-year-old is another player that will look to make the most in the increased minutes and responsibilities coming his way. Last season he also appeared in all 72 games for Everett and had a six goal, 13 assist campaign to go along with a +17 rating. He has one goal in three preseason outings to this point.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Carter Hart: Though he’s not here this weekend because of his NHL duties with Philly, Carter Hart is going to once again receive the lion’s share of starts this season for Everett. He’s worth the price of admission almost every time he mans the crease. He’s the two-time reigning WHL Goaltender of the Year for a reason.
New Coach: The Dennis Williams era in Everett has arrived and there is no shortage of intrigue to compliment his arrival. His predecessor Kevin Constantine was notorious for his defence-first approach to the game, which led to a ton of sustained success in Everett. But the addition of Williams has already created a buzz and with that buzz will likely come some system changes that could make for a new and exciting brand of hockey in the Pacific Northwest.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Preseason Record: 4-1-0-0
Preseason Scoring Leaders: James Malm (4GP – 3G – 3A – 6PTS), Ty Ronning (2GP – 3G -2A – 5PTS), Bowen Byram (4GP – 2G – 3A – 5PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Milos Roman: The talented Slovak has now registered goals in back-to-back games and more importantly seems to be looking more comfortable and confident with each passing game. He’s shown very promising signs that he’ll be an impact player on this Giants team and will be another exciting reason for fans to come and watch this team play.
Tyler Popowich: Through four preseason games, Tyler Popowich has quietly registered a goal and two assists to go with a team-leading +5. The draft eligible forward has it all: Size, smarts, physicality and finish around the net. He’s also going to be highly motivated, and if Popowich can consistently contribute in all areas of the ice, he’s going to be a fun player to watch.
WHO’S ON D:
Bowen Byram: With the game tied 2-2 late in the third, the 16-year-old rookie took it upon himself to make a play and win the game for his team. Byram’s wrap around goal with 5:20 to go in the third was his second of the preseason and he now sits tied with Ty Ronning for second in team scoring for the preseason.
Alex Kannok Leipert: The Regina native added another assist to his preseason totals yesterday and is now a +4 through four games. He’s very confident offensively but has also not looked out of place on the defensive side of the puck either. He’ll be another key building block for this Giants team and he’s doing everything within his power to show that he’s ready to step into the lineup full-time and contribute in 2017-18.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Pick Your Weapon: In five preseason games up to this point the Giants can proudly claim that their goaltenders have been sharp in all five. Whether it’s young Trent Miner or Todd Scott or a veteran like David Tendeck or Ryan Kubic – These four goaltenders continue to battle and continue to push one another. It continues to be an intriguing battle and all four goaltenders deserve a ton of credit for how they’ve battled and competed up to this point. At this point the Giants can’t go wrong with whomever they select to tend goal this afternoon.
Power Play: One of the major strengths of the Giants throughout the preseason has been their power play which is now clicking at a 38.9 percent success rate through five preseason games – The top total in the WHL. Special teams are always such a key factor, and the Giants have now struck at least once on the power play in all five of their preseason games.