Winners of six straight, the Vancouver Giants make their 10th appearance in the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings this week, leading the BC Division with a record of 20-6-2-0.
The Giants are one of eight CHL teams to reach the 20-win mark this season, joining the Prince Albert Raiders, Everett Silvertips, Ottawa 67’s, London Knights, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Moncton Wildcats and Drummondville Voltigeurs in that elite class.
Their latest conquest, a 4-2 win over the Tri-City Americans at home on Sunday, saw Calgary Flames prospect Milos Roman miss time due to injury, only to return and help the Giants overcome a 2-1 deficit with his 16th goal of the season.
While Roman sits tied with overage winger Davis Koch for the team lead in scoring, some of the Giants success can be attributed to a pair of young guns.
Draft eligible 17-year-old defenceman Bowen Byram has already exceeded last year’s goal-scoring total, sitting tied for the WHL lead among defencemen with eight markers to go with 24 points on the season. Joining him in turning heads has been another third overall WHL Bantam Draft selection in 16-year-old forward Justin Sourdif who has 12 points (6-6–12) over 25 games out of the gate.
While Byram has been a hot commodity on the NHL scouting scene for some time, recently representing the WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series, Sourdif has enjoyed a coming out party in his first WHL season.
“He doesn’t play like a 16-year-old,” Giants head coach Michael Dyck told The Province’s Steve Ewen of Sourdif’s talent. “I don’t know if the average fan would understand, but the coach or the scout watching the game understands how well he makes plays in tight, in traffic, under duress. He’s very good that way.”
The Giants don’t have a single scorer inside the league’s top-30, but with balanced offensive contributions, a pair of talented goaltenders in Trent Miner and David Tendeck along with the league’s second-ranked penalty kill, the Vancouver crew has found a way to get things done.
While the Giants feature the WHL’s 12th-ranked power play, the unit has converted in six straight games, operating at 30.7% in that span.
“We are playing faster. We haven’t changed anything, we have just changed our mindset,” Dyck said of the team’s success following a recent win. “We are still running the same power play, we still have the same guys on our power play, they are just working together. They are playing faster and letting the puck do the work for them. We are doing a good job of getting the puck to the net and we are finding sticks and finding screens and keeping it simple.”
The aforementioned Koch is currently riding a nine-game point streak while Roman has goals in six straight. The Giants have scored four goals or more in six of their last seven games.
Up ahead, the Giants host their annual Teddy Bear Toss in their second game at Pacific Coliseum this season on Saturday when they square off with the rival Victoria Royals. They’ll pay a return visit to Victoria on Saturday before playing host to the Prince George Cougars back at home at the Langley Events Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight takes a closer look at one team from the weekly KIA CHL Top 10 Rankings.
Past KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight editions:
Sept. 26, 2018 – Halifax Mooseheads
Oct. 4, 2018 – London Knights
Oct. 11, 2018 – Victoria Royals
Oct. 18, 2018 – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Oct. 25, 2018 – Prince Albert Raiders
Nov. 1, 2018 – Ottawa 67’s
Nov. 8, 2018 – Moncton Wildcats
Nov. 15, 2018 – Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Nov. 22, 2018 – Red Deer Rebels
Nov. 29, 2018 – Drummondville Voltigeurs