PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants at Spokane Chiefs (Game #68)
Tonight in Spokane, the Vancouver Giants battle the Spokane Chiefs for the second and final time in 2017-18. The Giants are coming off a 6-2 setback last night in Kennewick while the Chiefs were also on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision in Seattle. The Chiefs and Giants are both in similar situations in that they are mathematically still alive in their pursuit of a home playoff spot, but are running out of points and games to try and catch Portland and Victoria respectively. The Giants are also trying to earn their first victory against the Chiefs since September, 2013 and their first win in Spokane since the 2008-09 season.
Home Record: 20-11-0-2
Last Game: A 4-2 loss in Seattle last night
Last 10: 7-3-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 264/219 (+45)
Power Play: 19.4% (17th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.0% (6th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jarret Anderson-Dolan (65GP – 35G – 51A – 87PTS), Hudson Elynuik (67GP – 29G – 53A – 82PTS), Ty Smith (65GP – 14G – 58A – 72PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kailer Yamamoto: The Edmonton Oilers prospect comes into tonight’s game with 21 goals and 40 assists for 61 points in just 38 games played. His 1.61 points-per-game are seventh best in the WHL. He had two goals against the Giants on January 24th. He’s got points in seven of his last eight games and has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in that span.
Jarret Anderson-Dolan: The LA Kings prospect leads the team in both goals (36) and points (87). He’s only four goals shy of surpassing his total from last season, but points-wise he’s already 11 ahead of his totals from 2016-17. He leads the Chiefs with 27 power play points.
WHO’S ON D:
Ty Smith: The first overall pick from the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft is pegged by many to be the first WHL player selected in the upcoming NHL Draft. He’s having a terrific season with 14 goals and 58 assists for 72 points. Only David Quenneville of the Medicine Hat Tigers has more points on the back-end this season than Smith.
Filip Kral: The 1999-born Czech defenceman is also eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. He comes into tonight’s game with eight goals and 22 assists for 30 points through only 49 games. He’s a +13 and was recently ranked at #52 among North American draft eligible skaters in the Central Scouting mid-term rankings.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Dawson Weatherill: 1999-born goaltender Dawson Weatherill is enjoying a strong second full season in the WHL. Record-wise he’s 26-11-3-2 with two shutouts, a 2.99 goals-against-average and an .897 save percentage. He’s 1-0 against the Giants this season after posting a 31 save shutout back on January 24th.
Depth: The Spokane Chiefs have a little bit of everything. And their overall depth has launched them into a stretch where they are 13-4 in their last 17 games. Size? Hudson Elynuik. Grit? Zack Fischer. Skill? Kailer Yamamoto and Ty Smith. Speed? Jarret Anderson-Dolan. Youth? Luke Toporowski. Effort, discipline and attention to detail are going to be huge factors today for the Giants as they battle the Chiefs in Spokane.
Road Record: 14-12-4-2
Last Game: A 6-2 loss in Tri-City
Last 10: 3-6-1-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 217/234 (-17)
Power Play: 21.9% (13th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.2% (5th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (66GP – 57G – 22A – 79PTS), Tyler Benson (54GP – 24G – 40A – 64PTS), James Malm (67GP – 18G – 42A – 60PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The 20-year-old New York Rangers prospect did it again last night. He notched his 57th goal fo the season which now ranks him alone in second place in the WHL’s goal-scoring race – One ahead of Swift Current’s Glenn Gawdin.
Davis Koch: The 19-year-old from Surrey B.C. has now recorded assists in each of his past four games. He’s totalled five assists in that span. Koch sits fourth on the team in scoring with 20 goals and 31 assists for 51 points. He now has 12 points in 23 games since joining the Giants at the trade deadline.
WHO’S ON D:
Bowen Byram: 16-year-old Bowen Byram vs. 17-year-old Ty Smith? It’s quite a matchup. These two didn’t get to face each other back in late January because Ty Smith was away at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Byram had an assist in last night’s game in Kennewick and now has six goals and 20 assists which leads all 16-year-old defencemen in scoring.
Dylan Plouffe: Plouffe notched his ninth of the season in last night’s game for the Giants. His 39 points are tops on the team among defencemen. Since returning from injury Plouffe has recorded a goal and an assist through a stretch of three games. He shares the best plus-minus on the team with Ty Ronning – A +10 rating.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Trent Miner: Tonight in Spokane, Trent Miner will get the nod for the Giants as he’ll make his fourth career WHL start. So far Miner is 1-2 with a 3.94 goals-against-average and an .896 save percentage. His first WHL appearance came against Spokane on January 24th as he stopped 14 of the 15 shots fired his way in the third of period after relieving David Tendeck.
Defensive Details: Giants head coach Jason McKee was happy with his team’s offensive play in last night’s loss to Tri-City but stated that defensively there was more to give. That is going to be very important tonight for the Giants who are facing an inspired Spokane club that can humble you in a hurry if you’re not ready to battle and compete. The Giants have gone toe-to-toe with the best in the league all season, and tonight they’ll need a superb defensive effort to give them the best chance to win here tonight.