Giants hope going south will get them north on WHL rankings

Losers of four straight games, the Vancouver Giants’ visits to Portland, Tri-City and Spokane will mark the Western Hockey League team’s first games south of the border since February 2020.

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Team captain Justin Sourdif hopes hitting the road will help get the Vancouver Giants back on track.


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The Giants packed up the team bus and headed on a five-day, three-game field trip through the US Division Tuesday. Heading into the trip, Vancouver had lost four straight games and sat 7-7-1-0 heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Winterhawks, a modest start for a team with aspirations for an extended playoff career of the Western Hockey League in the spring.

Visits to Winterhawks, Tri-City Americans (Friday), and Spokane Chiefs (Saturday) mark Vancouver’s first games south of the border since February 22, 2020 on the road with Everett Silvertips and the first stay of multiple games from the Giants in the United States since fighting in Spokane on November 29, 2019 and then in Tri-City the following night.

“Playing those American teams that we haven’t seen in two years will be a good change. It could be like a reset button that we could push, ” said Sourdif, a 19-year-old center from Surrey, before the team left town. “I think our team is eager to hit the reset button right away.


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“It has been tough these last games. We have not performed to our ability in any way. We all have much more to give ”.

The WHL closed the 2019-20 season in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season was shortened and played in central cities. In their 22-game campaign, the Giants faced only competition from BC and played empty stadiums in Kamloops and Kelowna.

This season he returns to a full 68 game roster, playing on his home courts and in front of fans. However, there are only limited trips for road games. There is no usual link between the Eastern and Western conferences, which means that a team like Vancouver will only face teams from BC and the USA.

Due to border concerns, the Giants played their first eight games against opponents from BC, finally talking about the Winterhawks at the Langley Events Center on November 6.


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Defender Tanner Brown (left, reviewing then-Victoria Royal Parker Malchuk) says 'it's good to come together as a group, and there's no better place to do it than on the road'.
Defender Tanner Brown (left, reviewing then-Victoria Royal Parker Malchuk) says ‘it’s good to come together as a group, and there’s no better place to do it than on the road’. Photo by Allen Douglas

Giants players and staff must have a negative COVID-19 test before crossing the border back to Canada at the end of the trip.

This is the second multi-day road trip of the Giants’ youth season. They had a five-day trip with back-to-back games against the Prince George Cougars and then one against the Kamloops Blazers two weeks ago.

“It was weird at first, but we’re used to it,” Sourdif said of being on the road again. “Playing Prince George and Kamloops got us back at that pace on the bus.”

Sourdif, a fourth-year Giant, said he remembers teams that met on road trips in the past. He noted a 12-day, five-game trip through Alberta and before ending with a visit to Cranbrook’s Kootenay Ice in his 16-year-old rookie season in 2018-19.


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Defender Tanner Brown, 19, is a third-year Giant and said he’s seen the same thing. He and Sourdif were members of the 2019-20 Giants team that took a 12-day, six-game trip to Manitoba and Saskatchewan three weeks after that season.

“We are in a depression right now, but no one can get us out of it individually. It’s good to come together as a group, and there’s no better place to do it than on the road, ”said Brown, a Kelowna native. “They are just your teammates, just your brothers.”



Vancouver Giants at Portland Winterhawks

7 p.m. Pacific Time, Veterans Memorial Coliseum . Online:

Giants general manager Barclay Parneta also said this trip “couldn’t be at a better time.”

“We need to synchronize the team, make them play tighter,” Parneta said. “Nothing brings guys together like a road trip.


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“I don’t think our team has established an identity yet. We need to do that. “

Defender Alex Cotton (upper body injury), who missed both games before the trip, is expected to resume action during this outing south. The 20-year-old Detroit Red Wings prospect was chosen in a trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on November 5. Forward Ethan Semeniuk (UBI), who had missed three straight games before Wednesday’s game with Portland, also made the trip. .

The Giants’ weekly report on the WHL website lists forward Zack Ostapchuk (LBI) on a day-to-day basis, even though he had played two straight games before Wednesday after missing four in a row. However, it was a game-time decision for Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Victoria in the LEC.

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