The Vancouver Giants wrap up the 2011-12 regular season schedule with a home and home series with the Kelowna Rockets Friday and Saturday night. Friday night’s game will be played at Pacific Coliseum with puck drop at 7:30 pm. With it being the final home game of the regular season for the Giants, it will be Honda Fan Appreciation Night. Over $30,000 in prizes will be given away, including a 2012 Honda CR-V. As well, the Giants will announce their annual award winners prior to the start of the game. On Saturday the Giants and Rockets will wrap up the regular season at Prospera Place in Kelowna. Game time is 7:05 pm.
The Giants (39-26-2-3) have a chance to post the sixth 40 win season in franchise history. Last year the Giants finished 35-32-1-4. Brendan Gallagher continues his assault on the Vancouver Giants record book. In 243 career regular season games, he has 135 goals (most all-time), 144 assists (3rd most all-time), and 279 points (most all-time). Goaltender Adam Morrison has a chance to set the franchise record for most saves in a single season. He currently has 1,281 saves, 44 shy of the record of 1,325 saves shared by Brett Jaeger in 2001-02 and Marek Schwarz in 2004-05.
This season the Giants are 2-3-0-1 vs. the Rockets and 2-1-0-0 on home ice. Kelowna won the last game 4-3 in a shootout on January 21. Brendan Gallagher leads all Giants with 4 goals and 4 assists in just 4 games against Kelowna. All-time the Giants are 35-39-6-4 and 5 ties against the Rockets.
The Giants know they will be playing the Spokane Chiefs in the opening round of the 2012 WHL Playoffs; however, home ice advantage still needs to be decided. Currently the Giants and Chiefs are tied with 83 points with 2 games remaining, but the Giants hold down the 4th spot in the Western Conference because they have more regular season wins, plus they hold the next tiebreaker as well, head to head games this season. Vancouver is 2-0-0-0 vs. Spokane this year. The Giants defeated the Chiefs 3-2 in a shootout on October 5 at the Pacific Coliseum and 2-1 on February 15 at Spokane Arena. The Giants control their own destiny; win out and they will have home ice advantage in the first round.
Injuries have hit the Giants hard in the last couple of weeks. They will be without David Musil, Nathan Burns, Anthony Ast, and Austin Vetterl for the remainder of the season. Musil had surgery to repair a fractured wrist, Burns has a sprained MCL, Ast is dealing with a high ankle sprain, and Vetterl fractured a bone in his leg, which was surgically repaired. There is some good news, forward Austin Fyten, who the Giants picked up off waivers just after the trade deadline has been cleared for contact in practice. The 20 year old forward had ACL surgery last October. He had 24 goals, 30 assists, and 54 points in 52 games last year with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The Kelowna Rockets (30-31-3-6) have been locked into the 6th spot in the Western Conference for the last couple of months. This season will mark their lowest win total since the 2006-07 season in which they had just 22 victories. They will play either Tri-City or Portland in the opening round of the playoffs. The Rockets come into the weekend having won 4 of their last 6 games, including a 4-2 win over Everett Wednesday night. 19 year old Brett Bulmer is the hottest Rockets player with 11 goals in his last 11 games. Like the Giants, Kelowna has had to deal with its share of injuries. Forward Spencer Main hasn’t played since October 23, 2011 because of a concussion, captain Colton Sissons has missed the last 14 games with a concussion, and stay at home blueliner Mitchell Chapman has missed 12 of the last 17 games with an upper body injury.