PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants vs. Medicine Hat Tigers (Game #52)
Tonight at the LEC, the Vancouver Giants wrap up their eight-game, 22 day home stand when they welcome the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers to town for their first ever visit to the Langley Events Centre. The G-Men are coming off two straight victories against Calgary and have secured a point in each of their past three games. The Tigers are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss last night in Victoria and have won just twice in their last 10 outings. This will be the second time this season that these two clubs have faced each other. The Giants defeated Medicine Hat 5-3 on the road back on January 6th.
MEDICINE HAT TIGERS
Head Coach: Shaun Clouston
Road Record: 11-13-4-0
Last Game: A 4-3 OT loss to Victoria last night
Last 10: 2-4-4-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 194/197 (-3)
Power Play: 22.8% (10th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 75.3 (18th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Mark Rassell (54GP – 42G – 21A – 63PTS), David Quenneville (52GP – 21G – 38A – 59PTS), James Hamblin (52GP – 18G – 32A – 5OPTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Mark Rassell: The 20-year-old comes into action tonight with the third most goals in the WHL. His 42 goals trails only Vancouver’s Ty Ronning and Moose Jaw’s Jayden Halbgewachs. Rassell hasn’t scored in three straight games, which matches the longest stretch of games this season that he’s gone without a goal.
James Hamblin: The 18-year-old forward sits third in team scoring with 18 goals and 32 assists for 50 points. He had two goals in last night’s loss in Victoria. Over his past six games he’s scored four goals while adding four assists for eight points. He was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
WHO’S ON D:
David Quenneville: The 19-year-old prospect of the New York Islanders leads all WHL defencemen in both goals (21) and points (59). Over his past five games, he’s scored twice while adding four assists for six points. He’s one point shy of setting a new season best for points.
Kristians Rubins: The 20-year-old Latvian has been a great find for the Tigers. Checking in at 6’5” and 220 pounds, he’s provided steady two-way play for the Tigers in each of his two seasons. This season he’s set a new season-high with six goals and 25 points.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Michael Bullion?: The 20-year-old last played in Wednesday in Kamloops and took the loss in a 4-1 decision. Shaun Clouston has given both goaltenders ample playing time this season as Bullion has appeared in 24 games while his counterpart Jordan Hollett has played in 34. Hollett played last night in Victoria and could be in line for another go tonight, but Bullion is the fresher of the two. He’s 10-9-3-0 while Hollett comes in with a 16-12-4-0 mark.
Energy: Tonight the Tigers are going to have to dig deep into the reserves as they take the ice for their fourth game in a span of five nights. The Giants are the slightly fresher team having only played three in their last four, all of which have been at home. The Tigers have had some travel to contend with as well. Add the fact that they’re battling some injuries and the Tigers are going to have to lean on their veterans and goaltender to lead the charge in their first ever visit to the LEC.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Home Record: 15-9-2-1
Last Game: A 4-2 home victory last night against Calgary
Last 10: 5-2-2-1
Goals For/Goals Against: 178/178
Power Play: 21.8% (13th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.1% (7th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (51GP – 46G – 18A – 64PTS), James Malm (51GP – 17G – 32A – 49PTS), Tyler Benson (38GP – 19G – 29A – 48PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: Last night Ty Ronning inched even closer to Evander Kane’s single season franchise record for goals when he potted his 45th and 46th markers of the season. Heading into tonight Ronning is now three shy of a new single-season Giants record and four shy of becoming the first ever Vancouver Giant to score 50! He’s got four goals and an assist in a span of two games this week.
Brayden Watts: The 18-year-old California native had three assists in last night’s game, all of which came on the power play that caught fire in the second period. For the season Watts now has 12 goals to go along with 15 assists. Back on January 6th in Medicine Hat, Watts had a goal and an assist for the G-Men.
WHO’S ON D:
Bowen Byram: The 16-year-old rookie paced the Giants with two goals and an assist in last night’s game and was named the game’s second star for his efforts. For Byram it was his first multi-goal game in the WHL and he now has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points through 40 games.
Matt Barberis: Not to be outdone was Matt Barberis. The 19-year-old had two power play assists in the second period of last night’s game and now has three goals and 26 assists for 29 points, which trails only Dylan Plouffe for the team lead in scoring among defencemen.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck: 18-year-old David Tendeck should return to the crease tonight after a well-deserved night off last night. To his credit, rookie Trent Miner was terrific in his first WHL start, but all signs would point to David Tendeck returning to the crease for tonight’s showdown with the Tigers. For the season, Tendeck is 18-9-2-2 with two shutouts, a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage.
Build off Your Special Teams Success: The power play was three-for-five, the penalty-kill was eight-for-eight a night ago. That’s excellent for the stats and it also gives the Giants a lot of confidence to build off heading into tonight’s game. A big key for Vancouver will be to not take eight minor penalties against a dangerous Tigers power play that went two-for-seven against Vancouver when the two teams last met.