PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants at Kamloops Blazers (Game #70)
Tonight in Kamloops, the Vancouver Giants kick off their final week of the 2017-18 regular season with their eighth and final meeting of the season with the Kamloops Blazers. At this point, the Kamloops Blazers are playing for pride knowing that they won’t be heading to the playoffs, while the Vancouver Giants (with three straight wins and some help) are still technically in the mix for a top-two spot in the B.C. Division standings. Last week was all about making sure that the Giants played strong, motivated hockey and they passed that test. This week it’s more of the same as they get ready for the playoffs which begin next weekend.
Home Record: 14-17-1-2
Last Game: A 4-0 loss in Kelowna on Saturday
Last 10: 3-7-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 203/224 (-21)
Power Play: 21.2% (14th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 78.2% (11th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jermaine Loewen (63GP – 34G – 27A – 61PTS), Joe Gatenby (69GP – 13G – 46A – 59PTS), Nick Chyzowski (69GP – 20G – 25A – 45PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jermaine Loewen: The Blazers leading s corer has 34 goals and 27 assists for 61 points. In seven games this season against Vancouver he leads all Kamloops skaters with six goals and is tied for the team-lead in points with 10.
Luc Smith: The 19-year-old forward has five goals and five assists for 10 points in seven games against the Giants. For the season he’s notched 20 goals and 22 assists for 42 points.
WHO’S ON D:
Joe Gatenby: The 20-year-old’s impressive WHL career is nearing its end, but this season has been his best one statistically. His 13 goals and 59 points are both career highs and his +18 leads the team.
Nolan Kneen: With seven goals and 28 assists for 35 points, 18-year-old Nolan Kneen has had a strong third season for the Blazers. The third overall pick from the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft had just two goals and seven assists for nine points a season ago.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Dylan Ferguson: The Vegas Golden Knights prospect brings a record of 24-26-1-3 into tonight’s game with one shutout, a 2.92 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage. In five games against the Giants he’s 2-2 with a 2.79 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage.
Youth on Display: The future is very bright in Kamloops and with a 2020 Memorial Cup bid in mind, these final few games provide a great chance for the youth of this Blazers team to really strut their stuff. Up front Connor Zary and Brodi Stuart figure to be a big part of this team’s core in the future while Luke Zazula, Montana Onyebuchi and Devan Harrison are all key cogs on the back-end.
Road Record: 15-13-4-2
Last Game: A 4-3 road loss to Tri-City on Sunday
Last 10: 4-5-1-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 226/243 (-17)
Power Play: 22.8% (12th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.2% (5th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (68GP – 59G – 23A – 82PTS), Tyler Benson (56GP – 26G – 41A – 67PTS), James Malm (69GP – 19G – 44A – 63PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The Giants leading scorer has four goals in his last four games, and is one shy of 60 on the season. Ronning currently sits second in WHL goal scoring behind only Moose Jaw’s Jayden Halbgewachs who has 68.
Davis Koch: The 19-year-old Surrey native has points in each of his past six games. During that span he’s notched 10 assists. For the seaon he’s netted 21 goals to go along with 35 assists for 56 points.
WHO’S ON D:
Bowen Byram: In five games against Kamloops, Byram has notched five assists. He’s got six goals and 21 assists for 27 points through 58 games played to lead all 16-year-old defenceman in the WHL.
Alex Kannok Leipert: Fellow rookie Alex Kannok Leipert comes into tonight’s game with five goals and 16 assists for 21 points. From the get-go he’s logged big minutes in all situations and is another big piece of the Giants future on the back-end. He has one goal and one assist against Kamloops.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Trent Miner: The 16-year-old is coming off a 29 save victory last Saturday in Spokane. He’s 2-2 on the season up to this point and should see some more work this week ahead of the playoffs. He’s never faced Kamloops before.
Maintain Motivation/Stay Healthy: With three games left in the season it’s important for the Giants to continue to feel good about the ‘way’ their playing. More of than not, if the process and execution is good, a positive result will follow. That will be a major key for the Giants tonight in Kamloops. That, and staying healthy down the stretch.