Vancouver Giants have Zack’s back, name ‘ideal Giant’ Ostapchuk team captain


Rangy center dons the ‘C,’ seven weeks after Justin Sourdif was traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings at the WHL’s trade deadline

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Vancouver Giants general manager Barclay Parneta has repeatedly talked up how easy center Zack Ostapchuk has been to deal with.

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“He’s not even low maintenance. He’s no maintenance,” Parneta was saying Tuesday, calling on a frequent refrain for him about the third-year Giant and Ottawa Senators’ NHL prospect.

Both Parneta and coach Michael Dyck have praised Ostapchuk’s work ethic and his team-first mentality along the way, and this week they further added to his status as a Giants tone setter by naming him team captain.

Ostapchuk takes over the ‘C’ from fellow forward Justin Sourdif, who was dealt to the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Jan. 17 Western Hockey League trade deadline. Vancouver had been running with just alternate captains — which included Ostapchuk — since then.

“His dedication to the details in every aspect of the game, both on and off the ice, are incredible,” Parneta said of Ostapchuk, 18, who was a second-round pick, No. 39 overall, in last summer’s NHL Draft by the Senators.

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“His determination to get better is incredible. The resolve he’s showed through his injury from him to improve as fast he did was incredible.

“He holds all the marks that an ideal Giant has. He wants to leave a legacy here. There’s no question. It really matters to him. And those are the guys we want to be leading the guys who want to be here and do it the right way.”


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Putting the ‘C’ on Ostapchuk is a reward for him. It also further establishes what qualities Parneta and Dyck are looking for on their roster going forward, both to the end of this season and for 2022-23.

Parneta said that the Giants didn’t place the ‘C’ on Ostapchuk immediately because they worried it might have put added pressure on him. Vancouver has been inconsistent all season, which is why they moved Sourdif and veteran defenseman Tanner Brown at the trade deadline.

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It feels like Ostapchuk’s game has steadily improved, though. That includes him having six goals in eight games going into Wednesday’s road match-up with the Spokane Chiefs.

“He’s shown what he can do for the team and how badly he wants to be a part of making sure we’re on the right track,” Parneta said. “He’s taken up that leadership role and done a really good job stepping up on his own. Now the transition will be a lot easier on him.

“I think he understands that he can’t do this by himself. He can only do what he can do. But by doing what he’s doing, he’s leading our guys down the right path.

Ostapchuk is the 19th captain in Giants franchise history, which dates back to 2001-02. The St. Albert, Alta., product was a first-round pick, No. 12 overall, in the 2018 WHL Draft by the Giants.

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He missed the final 18 games of his rookie season in 2019-20 due to a knee injury that required surgery. He has 16 goals and 30 points in 45 games this season going into the Wednesday game at Spokane.

“I’ve never had to be worried about whether Zack is putting in the time to get better or not,” said Parneta. “From my experience, the players that move onto the NHL are those guys.”

The Giants, who wrapped up this US Division tour with visits to the Tri-City Americans on Friday and the Portland Winterhawks on Saturday, didn’t bring goaltender Jesper Vikman (lower body injury), center Tyler Halaburda (upper body injury) and winger Payton Mount (undisclosed) on the trip.

Vikman and Halaburda were both injured in Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Kamloops Blazers at the Langley Events Center and Parneta said Tuesday that they needed MRIs this week.

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Mount played in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Kelowna Rockets at the LEC. To replace Vikman on the roster, Vancouver has called in 2022 WHL Draft third rounder Matthew Hutchison.

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