Vancouver Giants winger Fabian Lysell says he’s loving the WHL playoffs, and it seems to be showing

Swedish winger Fabian Lysell was superb for Vancouver in first-round series and says he’s looking forward to matching up with Blazers star Logan Stankoven starting Friday.

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Fabian Lysell says the WHL playoffs are “just a lot more fun,” and the Vancouver Giants’ winger seemed to live that mantra throughout Round 1.

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Lysell was Vancouver’s leading scorer in the regular season. He was a member of the Swedish world junior team this year, and was the Boston Bruins’ first-round pick, No. 21 overall, in last summer’s NHL Draft.

There’s added fire and fervor to his game right now, though, and he was a major factor in the No. 8-seeded Giants upsetting the No. 1 Everett Silvertips in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals in six games.

Lysell seemed everywhere all the time in that series. He had four goals and 15 points against the Silvertips. Lysell is going to have to keep that going if Vancouver is going to beat the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers in the semifinals that open Friday in Kamloops.

“I’m competitive. When it comes to these games where it really matters, I always have that edge to my game that I can bring out,” Lysell said Wednesday before heading into team meetings at the Giants’ Ladner Leisure Center practice digs.

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Lysell is a 5-foot-10, 172-pound, right-handed shot who wears No. 11 for Vancouver. The Blazers’ leading scorer is forward Logan Stankoven, a 5-foot-8, 170 pound, right handed shot who wears No. 11 for Kamloops. Stankoven was a part of Team Canada’s world junior entry this season, and was a second-round selection of the Dallas Stars last summer.

This will be a duel inside this series. Neither Lysell nor Stankoven is ducking that premise.

“He’s a pretty special player. Just so skilled, the way he can skate, he can shoot. He sees the ice really well. It just goes to show why he’s a first-rounder,” Stankoven, 19, told Kamloops This Week’s Marty Hastings. “For me, it just kind of makes me even hungrier because I want to be better than him and, hopefully, have a better season, have a better playoffs, than that guy and make sure they don’t get past the second round because we want to go all the way with this thing.”

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Said Lysell: “He’s a good player. Very shifty, fast. You go through the matchups. I’m competitive. I want to win those type of matchups.”

Lysell is in his first season with Vancouver. He had 22 goals and 62 points in 53 regular-season games. He turned 19 in January, making him age-eligible to come back for two more seasons with the Giants after this one, although he’ll almost certainly be somewhere in the Bruins’ system far next year if he doesn’t stick with the big club next fall.

It feels like he’s doing some leadership-by-example throughout these playoffs for Vancouver.

Winger Adam Hall, who teams with Lysell to flank Zack Ostapchuk on Vancouver’s top line, said last week how “extremely competitive” Lysell is, and Giants defenseman Connor Horning had similar thoughts Wednesday.

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“He has fire in his game and when he’s going I think it raises everyone’s level,” Horning said. “He’s been great. That whole line has been great. They’ve been drivers for us.

“You see now that we’re getting contributions from everyone in the lineup. A lot of that starts with those guys. When they’re playing the right way, guys follow off of that.”

Lysell admits that Vancouver knocking off another top-ranked team in the playoffs is a massive ask, but “I see it the same way as Everett.”

“It’s a seven-game series and it comes down to preparation and the mental side of the game and sticking with it,” he said. “I feel that we should focus on ourselves and try to come out the way we did against Everett. Against Everett, we took it down to five-minute periods of time, and even went down to shift-to-shift, just focusing on your next shift. I feel that made a huge difference in the way we played and how we could manage to keep up with the level we wanted to for a long period of time.”

He says the last messaging he received from Bruins brass “was congratulations on the first round and let’s keep it going.”

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was quoted in March that Lysell could join the Bruins, or their AHL Providence Bruins affiliate, when Vancouver’s season is over.

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