Tonight at the Langley Events Centre, it’s a legitimate (potential) playoff preview as the Vancouver Giants host the Victoria Royals for the fourth time this season. In total it will mark the eighth time already that these B.C. Division rivals have squared off in 2017-18 and after dropping four straight to Victoria to start the season, the Giants have rattled off three straight wins against their foes from the Island. Both teams come into tonight with 56 points, meaning that one team will hold an outright lead on the other for playoff positioning when all is said and done tonight at the LEC.
Head Coach: Dan Price
Road Record: 11-11-2-1
Last Game: A 4-2 road victory Wednesday in Portland
Last 10: 6-3-1-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 192/163 (+29)
Power Play: 22.6% (12th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 72.4% (21st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Matthew Phillips (46GP – 31G – 40A – 71PTS), Tyler Soy (41GP – 20G – 33A – 53PTS), Dante Hannoun (41GP – 18G – 32A – 50PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Matthew Phillips: The talented Calgary Flames prospect comes into tonight’s game with a six-game point streak. During that span, Phillips has notched three goals and nine assists for 12 points. He leads the Royals outright with 31 goals and 40 assists for 71 points. He’s the top offensive producer in the Western Conference and has 13 points in seven games against Vancouver this season.
Tanner Kaspick: Since joining the Royals in a deadline deal with Brandon, Kaspick has notched two goals and an assist for three points in three games. The St. Louis Blues prospect brings an element of grit, speed and championship experience. In 38 games this season, Kaspick has registered 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points and is a +21.
WHO’S ON D:
Jared Freadrich: The Royals blueline is a bit banged up at the moment, but 19-year-old Jared Freadrich continues to plug away for the Royals. His 10 goals are a new season-high and seven of those have come via the power play. In seven games against Vancouver, Freadrich has notched a goal and four assists for five points.
Scott Walford: The 18-year-old prospect of the Montreal Canadiens has 23 assists and a +12 rating for the Royals. Given the recent string of injuries and suspensions to the Royals back-end, Walford’s role has been further enhanced in recent games. He’ll log a bulk of the minutes tonight against the Giants top forwards.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Griffen Outhouse: The Victoria Royals have played in 46 games, and Griffen Outhouse has appeared in 40 of them proving once again that he’s one of the biggest work-horse goalies in the entire WHL. His record this season against Vancouver is 3-3 with a 3.08 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage. His overall record sits at 24-10-3-1 with two shutouts.
New Faces: Since December 1st the Victoria Royals have been one of the busier teams on the trade front. The GM Cam Hope brought in eight new players, many of whom are big impact forwards to help with Victoria’s depth. Look for the likes of Lane Zablocki, Andrei Gishakov, Noah Gregor and Tanner Kaspick to play a big part in any of Victoria’s future success down the stretch.
Head Coach Jason McKee
Home Record: 13-7-1-0
Last Game: A 3-2 home victory last Saturday night against the Kelowna Rockets
Last 10: 7-1-2-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 164/160 (+4)
Power Play: 23.2% (8th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 77.7% (14th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (45GP – 40G – 17A – 57PTS), James Malm (45GP – 17G – 31A – 48PTS), Tyler Benson (32GP – 17G – 24A – 41PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
James Malm: The 18-year-old from Langley brings a nine-game point streak into tonight. During that span, Malm has four goals and nine assists for 13 points. He had a goal and an assist on Saturday against Kelowna and registered his league-leading ninth game winner in the process. In seven games against Victoria Malm has three goals and four assists and a +4 rating.
Ty Ronning: Fresh off his 40th goal of the season, Ty Ronning will look to inch even closer to the franchise’s goal-scoring record when he takes the ice against Victoria tonight. Ronning has six goals and two assists for eight points in seven meetings with Victoria this season. He has six goals in his past five games.
WHO’S ON D:
Matt Barberis: The now 20-year-old defenceman is celebrating a birthday today and what a gift it would be for Barberis and his teammates if they could snag their 26th win of the season. With three goals and 23 assists, Barberis’ 26 points matches his previous season high for points. Barberis has been sneaky good against Victoria posting two goals and five assists for seven points in seven games.
Dylan Plouffe: Not to be outdone offensively is Dylan Plouffe. The 18-year-old leads the Giants in scoring from the back-end with seven goals and 27 assists for 34 points. Plouffe also has recorded two goals and five assists for seven points against Victoria. His +11 rating is third best on the team behind Ty Ronning and James Malm.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck: The 18-year-old should be in line for his fourth straight start. For the season, Tendeck is 17-7-1-1 with a 2.93 goals-against-average, a .911 save percentage and two shutouts. Against Victoria, Tendeck has posted a record of 2-1-0-1 with a 3.04 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage. Since December 1st, Tendeck is 11-1-1-0 in a span of 14 appearances.
Do the Work: The recipe for the Giants sustained success as of late hasn’t been overly complicated. They’ve won games and vaulted up the standings thanks to a good honest effort on most nights. They’ve received balanced scoring, timely goaltending and their play on special teams has more often than not been better than the opponent. Tonight they’ll look for more of the same as they pursue their fourth straight victory against the Victoria Royals.