Undermanned Vancouver Giants aim to right ship in Sunday matinee against Prince George Cougars

Vancouver should get wingers Hall and Lies back from league-imposed suspensions but no word on returns of any of the other six skaters who missed the 6-2 loss in Seattle Saturday with injuries

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The Vancouver Giants should get at least two of the eight skaters who missed Saturday’s 6-2 road loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds back for this afternoon’s matchup with the Prince George Cougars at the Langley Events Center (4 pm, Sportsnet 650).

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Wingers Adam Hall and Justin Lies finished their league-imposed suspensions Saturday.

Hall received three games for his hit on Everett Silvertips defenseman Ronan Seeley on March 18 that forced Seeley to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury. He hasn’t played in Everett’s past four games. Hall picked up a boarding minor on the play.

Lies sat for five games for an altercation with the Portland Winterhawks’ bench at the final horn in a March 12 game.

Vancouver was also missing the following six skaters with undisclosed injuries on Saturday: forwards Ty Halaburda, Zack Ostapchuk, Fabian Lysell and Cole Shepard and defensemen Alex Cotton and Colton Roberts.

No word if any of the six will be ready to play today.

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Goaltender Jesper Vikman remains on the injury list as well.

Vancouver dressed just 16 skaters against Seattle, two below the usual complement. The Thunderbirds got three goals and two assists from former Giants center Lukas Svejkovsky. Even with that defeat, Vancouver gained traction in their chase for a playoff spot thanks to the Spokane Chiefs’ 4-0 loss to the Tri-City Americans.

Vancouver (23-32-4-0) is sixth in the WHL’s Western Conference and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is four, meaning that any combination of Vancouver wins and Spokane losses totaling four secures the Giants’ post-season spot.

Vancouver has nine regular season games left. They’re tied in points with the Victoria Royals (22-35-5-1) but they have more wins and they’ve played four fewer games. Prince George (21-35-2-1) holds down the eighth and final playoff spot, five points in back of Vancouver and Victoria and two ahead of Spokane (19-37-4-1). The Cougars have two games in hand on the Chiefs.

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Svejkovsky, 20, was a member of the Giants’ team that went to the 2019 WHL finale, where they lost in seven games to the Prince Albert Raiders. He requested a trade the following season and was dealt Dec. 7, 2019, to the Medicine Hat Tigers along with defenseman Dylan Plouffe in a swap that brought Vancouver winger Tyler Preziuso, defenseman Trevor Longo and a 2020 WHL Draft first-round selection. Vancouver later flipped that pick to the Saskatoon Blades in the deal that brought them center Eric Florchuk.

Svejkovsky, who was a 2020 fourth-round selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins, was traded by Medicine Hat to Seattle on Dec. 27, for three WHL Draft picks, including a 2022 first rounder. He has 30 goals and 68 points in 52 games.

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