PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants vs. Calgary Hitmen (Game #51)
Tonight at the Langley Events Centre, the Vancouver Giants return to action when they battle the Calgary Hitmen for the second time in a three-day span. Wednesday in Langley the Giants defeated the Hitmen 4-1 on the strength of two goals from Ty Ronning and 27 saves from goaltender David Tendeck. A win tonight for the Giants could vault them back within two points of the Victoria Royals for second place in the B.C. Division and would also extend their lead on fourth placed Kamloops back to double digits.
Road Record: 5-15-4-1
Last Game: A 4-1 loss to Vancouver Wednesday
Last 10: 2-8-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 151/196 (-45)
Power Play: 19.1% (17th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.6% (6th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jakob Stukel (49GP – 24G – 15A – 39PTS), Jake Kryski (49GP – 10G – 26A – 36PTS), Vladislav Yeryomenko (41GP – 11G – 20A – 31PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jakob Stukel: The former Giant has now scored in three straight games for Calgary. The 20-year-old leads all Calgary skaters with 24 goals and 15 assists for 39 points. He is a prospect of the Vancouver Canucks and was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft.
Riley Stotts: The talented 17-year-old has registered 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points in 25 games since joining the Calgary Hitmen in a November trade with the Swift Current Broncos. Stotts was ranked #88 in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings that were released last week.
WHO’S ON D:
Vladislav Yeryomenko: The talented 18-year-old from Belarus was named the third star in Wednesday’s game. He didn’t factor into the scoring, but logged a ton of minutes for Calgary and showed remarkable poise and confidence. He’s third in team scoring with 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points and also cracked NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings at #79 last week.
Dom Schmiemann: Another key piece to the Swift Current trade mentioned above was defenceman Dom Schmiemann. Originally selected 12th overall by Swift Current in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Schmiemann has appeared in 118 career games (with Swift Current and Calgary). The 6’4” rearguard has nine points this season (all of which are assists) which is already a season high.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick Schneider?: The 20-year-old signed Calgary Flames prospect didn’t have a bad game Wednesday. He made 30 saves on 33 shots faced and none of the three that got past him were ‘poor’ goals by any stretch. That said, he’s started nine straight games for Calgary, and that could set up a start for rookie Matthew Armitage who’s still looking for his first WHL win tonight.
Stukul/Kryski/Stotts: The talented offensive trio logged a lot of big minutes for Calgary Wednesday and were it not for some heroics saves from David Tendeck would have had much more to show for their efforts. Assuming these three play together again tonight, they’ll give Calgary a legitimate top line that’s going to make life tough for the Giants defensively.
Home Record: 14-9-2-1
Last Game: A 4-1 victory against Calgary on Wednesday
Last 10: 5-2-2-1
Goals For/Goals Against: 174/176 (-2)
Power Play: 20.8% (14th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 78.2% (12th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (50GP – 44G – 18A – 62PTS), James Malm (50GP – 17G – 31A – 48PTS), Tyler Benson (37GP – 19G – 28A – 47PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The 20-year-old forward comes into tonight’s game with 44 goals and 18 assists for 62 points. He had two goals and an assist Wednesday to lead all Giants. Coming into the weekend Ronning sits second in the WHL in goals trailing only Moose Jaw’s Jayden Halbgewachs. He leads all Giants in both goals and points.
Tyler Benson: Giants captain Tyler Benson had two helpers on Wednesday and now has two goals and two assists over the course of his past two outings. Benson sits third in team scoring with 19 goals and 47 points and his points-per-game total is tops on the team at 1.27.
WHO’S ON D:
Dylan Plouffe: The 18-year-old recorded another assist on Wedneday and continues to lead all Giants defencemen in scoring with eight goals and 29 assists (37 points). Plouffe’s +10 rating is also tops on the team among defencemen and third overall behind only Ty Ronning and James Malm.
Brennan Riddle: 20-year-old Brennan Riddle has very quietly put together a very effective stretch of games for the Giants. Riddle has three assists in eight games since joining the Giants in a trade with Lethbridge, but he’s a +3 and has flourished alongside Matt Barberis in a defense-first role.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Trent Miner?: With the Giants taking the ice for their second of three games in a span of four nights, tonight could be the night for rookie Trent Miner to make his first WHL start. The 16-year-old from Manitoba has 20 minutes of WHL experience under his belt up to this point and looked strong making 14 saves on 15 shots faced. The entire team should get a boost knowing that they’re rookie teammate will be manning the net for the first time.
Power Play: The Giants power play is one for its last 23. With their home stand winding down, it’ll be imperative for the Giants to get some traction going on the man-advantage as February begins. Special teams is often the deciding factor in games, and if the Giants can rediscover their mojo on the power play they’ll be awfully difficult to beat down the stretch as the push for the playoffs begins.