Tonight in Kent, WA the Vancouver Giants wrap up the month of February when their fourth and final meeting of the season with the defending league champs, the Seattle Thunderbirds. The three meetings prior to tonight have been anything but boring as all three meetings between the two clubs have required more than 60 minutes. The Giants are 2-0-0-1 against Seattle in that span. A victory tonight for the G-Men would inch them even closer to clinching a playoff berth in the B.C. Division standings, but the team across the ice from them is no joke and has plenty to play for in their own right.
Home Record: 15-11-3-1
Last Game: A 2-1 loss to Everett at home on Saturday night.
Last 10: 2-6-2-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 209/216 (-7)
Power Play: 23.0% (9th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 80.0% (5th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nolan Volcan (60GP – 26G – 36A – 62PTS), Donovan Neuls (61GP – 20G – 41A – 61PTS), Zack Andrusiak (61GP – 24G – 32A – 56PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Nolan Volcan: Volcan has points in each of his past three games and five of his last six. During that span he’s notched a goal and five assists. He leads the T-Birds outright in scoring with 62 points in 60 games.
Noah Philp: Philp has two goals and an assist in three meetings so far with Vancouver. The 19-year-old has 18 goals and 22 assists for 40 points through 61 games and is already 18 points ahead of his previous season high for points which he set two seasons ago with Kootenay.
WHO’S ON D:
Austin Strand: The 20-year-old prospect of the Los Angeles Kings comes into tonight’s game with 20 goals and 33 assists for 53 points. That’s tops among all Seattle defencemen. Strand leads the team with 12 power play goals and 24 power play points. His 20 goals are third most in the WHL for defencemen behind only Regina’s Josh Mahura and Medicine Hat’s David Quenneville.
Turner Ottenbreit: The 20-year-old captain of the T-Birds is one of the most physically imposing d-men in the league. Offensively though he’s come into his own in 2017-18 with eight goals and 30 assists for 38 points which is the second most on the team behind Strand. He was drafted in the 12th round of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Liam Hughes: The 18-year-old has been a nice find for Seattle. Since joining the T-Birds he’s 10-10-4-1 in 27 appearances with a 3.13 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage. In two appearances against Vancouver this season, Hughes is 1-0-1-0 with a 1.89 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage.
Jarret Tyzska: The Montreal Canadiens prospect provides another impact piece to a stacked Seattle blueline. The Langley, B.C. native has a goal and two assists in three games played against the Giants and has eight goals and 29 assists for 37 points in 59 games played.
Road Record: 13-10-3-2
Last Game: A 2-0 win at home last night against Kamloops
Last 10: 5-5-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 200/205 (-5)
Power Play: 20.9% (14th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 80.1% (4th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (60GP – 53G – 21A – 74PTS), Tyler Benson (48GP – 21G – 36A – 57PTS), James Malm (61GP – 17G – 37A – 54PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Tyler Benson: The Giants captain scored the insurance goal in last night’s game into an empty-net. He now has 21 goals to go along with his 36 assists. He’s riding a five-game point streak and has two goals and four assists in that span. He has a goal and an assist against Seattle in two games.
Ty Ronning: The Giants leading scorer has three goals in three games against Seattle. When these teams last met on February 9th, Ronning scored twice to match and eventually surpass Evander Kane’s single-season franchise record for goals. Ronning leads all Giants with 53 goals and 74 points.
WHO’S ON D:
Darian Skeoch: Last night Skeoch’s physicality was a big-time factor in the Giants 2-0 win over Kamloops. Early in the first, Skeoch threw a big check on Kamloops forward Jermaine Loewen which set the tone physically for the rest of the game. Tonight the Giants will need a similar approach as the Thunderbirds have a big, rugged group of forwards that can make you pay if you don’t protect the front of your net.
Matt Barberis: The 19-year-old returned to the Giants lineup last night and didn’t miss a beat, despite not playing in the last seven games beforehand. Barberis’ re-addition to the lineup helped the power play and gave Jason McKee and Dean Chynoweth another reliable option that can eat up minutes in all sorts of situations. Barberis should only get better as he gets readjusted to the pace and timing and tonight he’ll be tasked with shutting down some of the T-Birds top scorers.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck?: With a 24 save shutout under his belt from last night, it could mean that David Tendeck once again gets the nod for Vancouver. Tendeck has only faced Seattle once, and was the winning goaltender in the 2-1 overtime decision on February 9th. For the season Tendeck is now 23-13-2-2 with three shutouts, a 2.80 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage.
Similar Defensive Urgency: Last night at home was one of the best, most complete defensive efforts of the season for the Giants who kept Kamloops to 24 shots. There were plenty of blocked shots, and deflected pucks that didn’t end up on net, but that’s a testament to the work that the Giants did collectively on the defensive side of the puck. That same approach will be needed tonight against a Seattle Thunderbirds team who is desperately looking for some separation when it comes to their playoff hopes in the Western Conference.