Wednesday, December 1

Giants and Blazers heading to the weekend’s showdown in the first round of BC’s main rivals

Saturday’s game at Langley Events Center, the first of 12 regular-season meetings, will be Vancouver’s first game in more than a week and Kamloops’ fourth meeting in five nights.

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Come Saturday night, we’ll have better readings from both the Vancouver Giants and the Kamloops Blazers, although the season’s sample sizes will have to influence judgments on both sides.


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Kamloops and Vancouver are the top two consensual teams in the Western Hockey League Division BC and their first of 12 meetings for this 2021-22 campaign takes place on Saturday at the Langley Events Center.

It will be the first meeting of any kind in more than a week for the Giants, who have been in practice mode since their first home game against the Prince George Cougars last Friday.

For the Blazers, it will be the fourth game in five nights. They were at the Victoria Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday, and visit the Kelowna Rockets on Friday.

WHL teams are back playing 68-game slates after truncated seasons at the hubs last spring. However, this time there is no crossover between the Western and Eastern conferences, and that fewer potential opponents for a regular year has certainly played a role in the quirks of the schedule.


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Vancouver has six games in October. Kamloops has nine. Victoria is 13.

“You can look at Saturday in two ways: Either they will wear out or they will heat up,” Giants coach Michael Dyck said of the Blazers. “We could be rested or we could be rusty.

“We are excited to play against them and see how we pair up, but it is still only the first of 12 games this season.”

The Blazers won the Division BC center last spring, going 18-4-0-0. Vancouver was 12-10-0-0, including a 2-4-0-0 record against Kamloops.

“They are a really skilled team. They are young people with a lot of energy. You have to keep them out, you can’t let them play to their ability, “said Vancouver forward Zack Ostapchuk. “In the bubble, we build a hatred for each other in some way. They are definitely a team we are looking for. “


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The Blazers boast six NHL draft picks, most notably forward Logan Stankoven, 18, a second round from the Dallas Stars last summer who should run for the league scoring title before all is said. and done this season. Netminder Dylan Garand, 19, who was the New York Rangers’ fourth assailant in 2020, He played for team Canada at the World Youth Championship last winter.

Even with all of that, his defense may be the most fan-appealing thing in the LEC on Saturday.

His rear team includes 2020 seventh-round Vancouver Canucks Viktor Persson, a Swede turning 20 next month. There’s also Mats Lindgren, 17, the son of former Canucks center of the same name and someone already getting rumors about next summer’s NHL Draft. And there’s Marko Stacha, 19, a Slovak who spent last season with the Giants.


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Kamloops Blazers vs. Vancouver Giants

7 pm, Langley Event Center. Radio: AM650

Vancouver needed to trade Stacha because WHL teams can only have two Europeans on their final roster and this offseason the Giants added 18-year-old Swedish winger Fabian Lysell, who was a first-round pick this summer for the Boston Bruins. as well as 19-year-old Swedish goalkeeper Jesper Vikman was a fifth assailant for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2020.

The Giants received a 2023 fifth-round pick from the Blazers in exchange for Stacha.

Stacha has gone to the last two World Youth World Cups for Slovakia and played the first four minutes for the Giants last spring on his way to scoring one goal, six points and a rating of plus nine in 22 games. Vancouver general manager Barclay Parneta had two weeks to make a move after Lysell and Vikman were reassigned to the Giants, but they opted for the Kamloops deal on day one. He said he didn’t want to leave the Giants and Stacha in limbo. He also knew that the longer he waited to make a move, the greater the risk of potentially losing Stacha for nothing in the waivers.


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Stacha scored three goals and a rating of plus three in his first three games with the Blazers.

“It’s good to know his tendencies, but he also knows the tendencies of the guys on our team,” Sourdif said.

Lysell (upper body injury) did not play in 6-4 win over Prince George after recovering from injury in 5-0 win over host Royals in season opener on October 2 , but he has skated with the team again. team this week.

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