The Giants’ Zack Ostapchuk returns to ‘my old self again’ as a tower of power

“ I could have been trying to do too much, becoming too fancy, ” says a spirited and tough winger before turning back to a simpler and more direct game.

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Zack Ostapchuk feels better about his game, and there will be opponents who feel worse hearing that.


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“I’m starting to be my old self again,” the Vancouver Giants third-year forward said before leaving for a visit Wednesday to the Kelowna Rockets. “I’m driving the guys out, I’m making plays.

“I think it’s a bit simpler to play, I guess. I felt a bit lost the first two games. I could have been trying to do too much, getting too fancy. “

Ostapchuk’s stats remain modest so far. He enters that Wednesday visit to the Rockets with one goal and five points in 13 starts.

It felt like on Vancouver’s three-game swing through the US Division last week that the 18-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., Was back using his speed and wide 6-inch body. 3 feet and 198 pounds better. be a factor in all three zones. He was most like the player who caught the attention of scouts at the BC Division Hub season in Kamloops and Kelowna last spring with classic power forward traits.


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The Ottawa Senators used a second-round pick, No. 39 overall, in last summer’s NHL Draft at Ostapchuk. Ottawa then signed him to his three-year entry-level contract in boot camp.

He missed Vancouver’s first game of the season because he was still at camp in Ottawa. He was reassigned in time for the Giants’ second game.

Players who return to junior ranks after stint with an NHL team often have a hard time readjusting. Giants coach Michael Dyck thinks that makes sense.

“I think it is much more difficult to play junior. At the NHL level, everyone knows how to play their position. You just have to be where you are supposed to be and you are going to have the album or you are going to distribute it, “he said.


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Ostapchuk scored seven goals and 16 points in 22 games at the center last spring. He scored five goals and eight points in 44 games as a 16-year-old rookie in 2019-20 before his season ended with a knee injury.

Ostapchuk was Vancouver’s first-round pick, No. 12 overall, in the 2018 WHL Draft.

Dyck said he is not concerned about Ostapchuk’s offensive production to date. A pickup in numbers is likely, Dyck said, but Ostapchuk is also not a player for whom goals and assists totals are his most telling indicator of success.

“He can be dominant, not as a leading scorer, but as a power forward,” Dyck said. “It can be dominant on both sides of the record. He can be good in the lower zone in both offensive and defensive zones. It can be good in the circle of fighting.


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“I don’t care about their numbers. I am concerned that outside influences will put undue pressure on him to believe more. Will come.”

Ostapchuk added: “I feel a little bit bitten on offense. But I’m not worried. “

Dyck moved Ostapchuk from wing to his natural center position last week, pitting him primarily between Adam Hall and Payton Mount with even force.

Ostapchuk said he feels comfortable in both places and believes it is to his advantage to move forward. Ottawa has given no preference to seeing him lined up at the next level.

“I like that I can move a little bit more in the center. I can help wherever. You feel like you are more involved, ”said Ostapchuk.


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Ostapchuk also missed four Vancouver games due to a lower body injury sustained in practice. Two games after his return to the lineup, it was a game-time decision for the November 20 game against the Victoria Royals with an undisclosed problem, but he ended up playing that night.

Ostapchuk is back in center because Dyck has moved Justin Sourdif and Ty Thorpe, who had been centering the first two Vancouver lines, to the same trio. Lately they have been joined by Fabian Lysell. Thorpe has been taking most of their matchups.

Dyck appreciated their efforts in particular in a 3-1 win over the Spokane Chiefs last Saturday that closed the trip. The trio accounted for six points in the match (goal and two assists for Thorpe, goal and assist for Lysell, assist for Sourdif) and combined for 13 shots on target.

“They’re playing really fast,” Dyck said. “Thorpe is a good two-way center who plays fast and has these guys on his wing who can make plays. They really got together in Spokane. “

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