Tonight on Vancouver Island the two top teams in the Western Conference do battle in the first of back-to-back games. The Vancouver Giants put their five-game winning streak on the line tonight against the only undefeated team remaining in the WHL, the Victoria Royals who have won six games in a row to start their 2018-19 campaign. The Giants are coming off a thrilling 4-3 shootout victory a night ago, while the Royals have been idle since last Saturday and a 2-1 road victory in Kamloops.
Head Coach: Dan Price
Home Record: 4-0
Last Game: A 2-1 road victory in Kamloops last Saturday night.
Goals For/Goals Against: 22 GF/11 GA
Power Play: 28.1% (4th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 86.9% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Dante Hannoun (6GP – 4G – 3A – 7PTS), Kaid Oliver (6GP – 4G – 2A – 6PTS), Dino Kambeitz (6GP – 2G – 4A – 6PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Dante Hannoun: The 20-year-old Delta native comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game point streak. During that span, Hannoun has compiled his four goals and three assists which leads the team. In 36 career WHL games against the Giants, Hannoun has registered 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points. All 264 of his WHL games have been played in a Royals uniform.
Kaid Oliver: The 18-year-old from White Rock, B.C. is off to a strong start in his third full WHL campaign. His four goals ties him with Hannoun for the team lead, and his six points rank him second. Last season Oliver had six goals and 19 assists for 25 points, so he’s well on his way to obliterating his previous season-best goal totals.
WHO’S ON D:
Ralph Jarratt: The 20-year-old leads all Royals blueliners in scoring with a goal and five assists for six points. The Fort St John, B.C. product was named the Royals top defenceman a season ago. Offensively he’s never surpassed three goals in a season, but Jarratt provides so much reliability and physicality for the Royals on the back-end and he’ll log a lot of the tough defensive minutes for his team this weekend.
Scott Walford: The only NHL prospect on the Royals roster is 19-year-old Scott Walford. The Coquitlam, B.C. product was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2017 NHL Draft. Last season Walford set a new season high offensively with 32 points through 69 games. He was a first-round pick of the Victoria Royals back in 2014.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Griffen Outhouse: 20-year-old Griffen Outhouse is no stranger to the Vancouver Giants. Over the course of his lengthy WHL career, Outhouse has posted a career mark of 18-4-1-0 against Vancouver. He’s played all but seven minutes for the Victoria Royals so far this season, and has posted a 6-0 record with a 1.85 goals-against-average and a .944 save percentage. His career record is 93-44-10-3 with 10 shutouts.
Depth: Not unlike the Giants, the Victoria Royals are a team that doesn’t just rely on one line to supply their offense. They’ve received strong contributions across the board, which makes them difficult to match up against. They’ve also shown that they keep the door shut defensively considering they’ve surrendered the fewest goals against the WHL.
Head Coach: Michael Dyck
Road Record: 4-0
Last Game: A 4-3 shootout victory last night at home against Kamloops.
Goals For/Goals Against: 27 GF/14 GA
Power Play: 18.5% (17th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 86.1% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: James Malm (8GP – 7G – 3A – 10PTS), Brayden Watts (8GP – 2G – 6A – 8PTS), Milos Roman (8GP – 4G – 2A – 6PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Milos Roman: The Calgary Flames prospect scored with 10.7 seconds in last night’s game to help the Giants force overtime against the Blazers. That goal was Roman’s second of the season and helped him extend his point-streak to five games. Roman comes into the weekend with two goals and four assists on the season which ranks him third on the team in scoring.
Brayden Watts: Brayden Watts also brings a five-game point-streak into tonight’s matchup with Victoria. Watts has managed two goals and six assists for eight points over the course of his past five games, all of which have been victories for the Giants. He had a pair of assists in last night’s victory.
WHO’S ON D:
Bowen Byram: When the Giants needed a goal in Round 3 of the shootout last night, Byram delivered. He also added an assist in regulation and was a +3. Byram put up three assists in nine games last season against the Royals and this weekend he’ll once again look to be a prominent factor in the Giants offensive attack.
Kaleb Bulych: Bulych played the role of shootout (offensive) hero last night for the Giants as his goal in Round 13 put the Giants ahead for good in the game. Bulych has a goal and an assist offensively but also leads the Giants with 20 penalty minutes through eight games. The 2000-born Yorkton, SK product has looked right at home playing alongside Dylan Plouffe and tonight he’ll once again be in line for some tough minutes in defensive situations.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck: The Arizona Coyotes prospect continues to be a major factor in the Vancouver Giants success. Last night he stopped 12 of the 13 shootout attempts he faced and also turned aside 27 shots through 65 minutes of game play. He’s now 5-1 through six starts and has added a 1.80 goals-against-average, a .933 save percentage and one shutout. Tendeck was 2-1-1-2 against the Royals a season ago and put forth a 3.13 goals-against-average and a .896 save percentage.
James Malm: The Giants leading scorer led all active Giants in scoring last season against the Royals, posting three goals and six assists for nine points in 10 games. Malm leads the Giants with seven goals and three assists but has now gone three games without a goal. The Giants will need Malm to lead the charge offensively against a stingy Royals team that can hang with the best when it comes to defense.