PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants vs. Kelowna Rockets (Game #45)
Tonight at the Langley Events Centre, the Vancouver Giants kick off an eight-game home stand when they clash with the B.C. Division leading Kelowna Rockets for the fourth time this season. 2018 has been friendly to the Giants so far as Jason McKee’s troops have posted an impressive 5-0-1-0 reecord. Taking that success a step further, the Giants are 6-0-2-0 in their last eight games and dating back to December 1st they’ve lost just twice in regulation – A span of 17 games. They’ve own 13 of those 17. Tonight they’ll look to get back within striking distance of the Kelowna Rockets for first in the B.C. Division when they square off at the LEC for the third time in 2017-18.
Head Coach: Jason Smith
Road Record: 12-8-2-0
Last Game: A 6-2 road victory last night in Seattle
Last 10: 9-1-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 169/142 (+27)
Power Play: 27.9% (3rd in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 78.0% (13th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kole Lind (33GP – 21G – 34A – 55PTS), Carsen Twarynski (39GP – 29G – 19A – 48PTS), Kyle Topping (42GP – 16G – 29A – 45PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kole Lind: Canucks prospect Kole Lind might be one of the hottest players going right now in all of the WHL. He leads the Rockets in scoring with 55 points in 33 games played and comes into tonight’s game riding an 11-game point streak. During that span Lind has registered nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points.
Carsen Twarynski: The 20-year-old prospect of the Philadelphia Flyers leads the Rockets in goals with 29. In three games against Vancouver this season, Twarynski has two goals and an assist for three points. Twarynski paced the Rockets with two goals last night in Seattle.
WHO’S ON D:
Cal Foote: Rockets captain Cal Foote leads all Kelowna skaters with four points in three games against the Giants so far this season. The World Junior gold medalist with Canada was selected 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2017 NHL Draft and leads all Rocket blueliners with 35 points in 32 games played so far this season. Three goals and 16 assists from Foote have come via the power play.
Gordie Ballhorn: The 20-year-old has already obliterated his previous season highs for points. In each of Ballhorn’s first two seasons he recorded nine points. This season the pride of Wetaskiwin, AB has 25 points. His +23 rating is far-and-away the tops on the team.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
James Porter?: The 17-year-old rookie is 2-1 against the Giants this season with a 4.22 goals-against-average and an .872 save percentage. For the season he’s compiled a record of 18-6-2-0. That said, he did play last night in Seattle, which might mean that rookie Roman Basran gets the nod for Kelowna. Basran’s numbers are impressive as the 16-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 2.38 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage.
Power Play: Last night in Seattle the Rockets power play exploded for four goals. They finished four-for-eight on-the-whole which helped Kelowna’s power play leapfrog into third overall in the WHL. Discipline is going to be a major key tonight for the G-Men at home against this lethal Kelowna attack.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Home Record: 12-7-1-0
Last Game: A 4-3 overtime loss in Prince George Wednesday
Last 10: 7-1-2-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 161/158 (+3)
Power Play: 22.8% (10th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 77.2% (14th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (44GP – 39G – 17A – 56PTS), James Malm (44GP – 16G – 30A – 46PTS), Tyler Benson (31GP – 17G – 24A – 41PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The Giants leading scorer is coming off a three-goal performance Wednesday in Prince George. For the season Ronning now has 39 goals which ranks second in the WHL to only Moose Jaw’s Jayden Halbgewachs who has 47. Heading into tonight Ronning is just 10 goals shy of surpassing Evander Kane’s single-season franchise record of 48.
James Malm: The 18-year-old forward brings an eight-game point streak into tonight’s matchup with Kelowna. Over the course of the past eight games, James Malm has three goals and eight assists for 11 points. Malm and Ronning are tied for the team-lead in plus-minus with a +12 rating.
WHO’S ON D:
Brennan Riddle: Tonight marks the home debut for newly acquired veteran Brennan Riddle. Riddle has impressed in his first two games with the Giants and has provided calm and dependable minutes. Tonight he’ll be one of the players tasked with shutting down the Rockets top guns. With Darian Skeoch sidelined with an injury, Riddle’s veteran presence becomes even more of an important factor tonight.
Alex Kannok Leipert: In three games against the Rockets this season, rookie defenceman Kannok Leipert has notched three assists to lead all Giants blueliners in points. For the season, Kannok Leipert has two goals and 15 assists for 17 points and his plus-minus rating of +8 ranks him third on the team.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck: In his only game against Kelowna this season, Tendeck was solid turning aside 26 of the 27 shots fired his way as the Giants defeated the Rockets 6-1 back on November 18th at the Langley Events Centre. Tendeck is coming off a 4-3 overtime loss Wednesday in Prince George, but he was solid making 33 saves. Tendeck has just one regulation loss to his credit in his last 13 starts.
Davis Koch: The 19-year-old product of Surrey, B.C. makes his Giants debut tonight and without question he’ll be excited to strut his stuff for his hometown team in front of friends and family. Koch comes into action tonight with 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points in 40 games played. He was acquired to add more offensive depth to this already potent Giants attack, and here’s hoping his Giants debut can be a memorable one tonight.