Watching a Vancouver Giants’ practice these days starts with taking attendance.
Goalie Jesper Vikman was present and accounted for on Monday at the Langley Events Centre. He didn’t dress for Vancouver’s 7-3 loss to the host Everett Silvertips on Saturday in Game 2 of their best-of-seven WHL Western Conference quarterfinal series after backstopping the Giants to a 5-4 overtime win Friday in Everett, Wash. , in the opener.
That had been Vikman’s first game action since suffering some sort of groin or hamstring injury in a March 4 contest against the Kamloops Blazers.
Among the absent on Monday were center Ty Thorpe, wingers Payton Mount and Colton Langkow, and defenseman Colton Roberts.
Thorpe, Mount and Roberts were all hurt during Saturday’s game. Thorpe left for a time but returned. The other two didn’t return for the game.
Wednesday: Game 3
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1.
Vancouver Giants vs. Everett Silvertips
7 pm, Langley Events Centre. Radio: Sportsnet 650.
Roberts had been inserted into the lineup that night in place of Langkow, who was hurt on Friday.
Deadlocked at 1-1, the first-place Silvertips and eighth-place Giants resume their series Wednesday at the LEC. Vancouver’s lineup for that night is a work-in-progress.
“We’ll know a little bit more come Tuesday,” Giants coach Michael Dyck said after departing the LEC ice on Monday. “Obviously there are some guys who needed to get a break today.”
Vikman taking part in proceedings on Monday would seem to be a good sign that he’ll start Wednesday, although Dyck said that he still wanted to see how practice goes on Tuesday. Will Gurski, a 19-year-old who handled much of the goaltending duty with Vikman sidelined, went the distance Saturday and made 38 saves.
General manager Barclay Parneta had pegged Vikman, a Swede who’s a Vegas Golden Knights’ prospect, as the team’s most valuable player midway through the season. Vikman was making his 18th start in a row since coming back from Team Sweden world junior duty in that March 4 tilt he was injured in.
Vikman was 17-15-2-0, with a 3.05 goals against average and a .903 save percentage for Vancouver (24-39-5-0), which wound up 47 points behind the front-running Silvertips (45-13- 5-5).
Dyck said that Vikman playing in Game 1 and then sitting out in Game 2 was “a possibility” all along. Vikman, who turned 20 in March, made 34 saves on Friday, helping Vancouver rally from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits. Veteran winger Adam Hall had a hat trick and linemate Fabian Lysell recorded five assists.
“After you haven’t played in a game in that long and then you go into a game like that … it’s like going from zero to 100 miles per hour right away,” Dyck said.
There’s a day off before Game 4, which is scheduled for Friday at the LEC. There’s no break before Game 5, though, since it’s scheduled for Saturday in Everett.
Mount seems like the least likely of the skaters to make a return to the lineup in this series. He took a hit from behind from Everett forward Alex Swetlikoff at the 19:53 mark of the first period and needed to be attended to on the ice by Giants athletic trainer Mike Burnstein.
Swetlikoff received a checking-from-behind double minor on the play. The league automatically reviews all non-fighting major penalties and double minors, and the league announced on its website Monday that Swetlikoff was receiving a two-game suspension for the hit.
He was Everett’s leading scorer in the regular season with 84 points, including 33 goals.
Dyck spoke of concussion worries regarding Mount on Monday. The Giants, like all WHL teams, tend to stay vague on injuries and especially come the playoffs. Vikman has only been listed as missing with a lower-body injury, for instance. He was hurt overextending on a play around the net against the Blazers in that game seven weeks ago.
“We’re concerned about Mount,” Dyck said. “He took a pretty heavy hit. He got his head slammed into the glass. He’s had some concussion issues … It’s not about him getting back in the series. We’re concerned about his health.
Winger Cole Shepard (lower body), who has been sidelined since March 16, was a part of practice Monday but in a non-contact jersey. He had skated with the club last week but wasn’t on the ice with the team for Thursday’s practice, their final one before the series opened.
Forwards Justin Ivanusec, who was Vancouver’s fourth pick in December’s WHL Draft, and Sammy May, who played one regular-season game with Vancouver and spent the majority of the season with the Alberta Junior A League’s Drayton Valley Thunder, were on the ice Monday as well.
Winger Jacob Boucher (lower body), who skated with the Giants last week, wasn’t on the ice Monday. Center Ty Halaburda (shoulder surgery) and winger Kaden Kohle (upper body) are both likely finished for the season.
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