Prior to the Pandemic
After a slow start to the season, the Giants started to turn things around after the trade deadline as an improved offence led to an 11-game win streak. The stage was set for an interesting opening round series with the Victoria Royals when the campaign ended.
The cancelation of the 2020 playoffs resulted in a bit of a change for the Giants heading into this year. Forwards Tyler Preziuso and Milos Roman aged out of the league along with goaltender David Tendeck, blueliners Seth Bafaro and Trevor Longo did not return for their overage campaigns, defensive leader Bowen Byram moved up to the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche and forward Cole Shepard was out for the entire season due to an injury.
Despite those challenges, the Giants were able to post a 12-10 record and ended up third in the B.C. Division, as the Kelowna Rockets had a better win percentage in the 16 contests that they were able to suit up in to nab second spot.
The Giants also weren’t far off the numbers they’ve posted in recent campaigns, as their 3.22 goals per game average and their 2.68 goals against per game mark was right around where they have been in recent seasons.
- Eric Florchuk (4-16-20 in 22 games)
- Tristen Nielsen (15-17-32 in 22 games)
- Bryce Bader (5-5-10 in 22 games)
- Adam Hall (7-5-12 in 22 games)
- Dallon Wilton (0-1-1 in 22 games)
- Kadyn Chabot (0-3-3 in 21 games)
- Kaden Kohle (1-1-2 in 22 games)
- Krz Plummer (0-0-0 in two games)
- Cole Shepard (Missed the season due to an undisclosed injury – 11-18-29 in 50 games for the Giants in 2019-20)
- Justin Sourdif (11-23-34 in 22 games – Florida Panthers Draft Pick)
- Justin Lies (3-5-8 in 21 games)
- Fabian Lysell (Unsigned 2020 Import Draft Pick – 2-1-3 in 26 games for Lulea HF in Sweden)
- Zack Ostapchuk (7-9-16 in 22 games)
- Julian Cull (0-0-0 in 13 games)
- Colton Langkow (0-1-1 in six games)
- Jaden Lipinski (Signed Listed Player – 13-5-18 in 17 games for the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes Under-16 Team)
- Bowden Singleton (Unsigned 2nd round pick in 2019 – 3-3-6 in seven games for the Okotoks Oilers – 20-33-53 in 24 games for the Northern Alberta Xtreme Prep Team in 2019-20 – Committed to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks)
- Ty Halaburda (2nd round pick in 2020 – 1-0-1 in five games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-17 Prep Team – 27-26-53 in 28 games for the Pacific Coast Academy Under-15 Prep Team in 2019-20)
- Ethan Semeniuk (3rd round pick in 2020 – 2-2-4 in six games for the Calgary Under-18 Royals – 19-31-50 in 30 games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-15 Prep Green Team)
The veteran leaders for the Giants did their job when it came to leading the offence. Justin Sourdif ended up being a finalist for the WHL’s player of the year, Tristen Nielsen was named by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman as a player that NHL teams could be looking at as a prospect and Eric Florchuk continued the strong form he showed after being acquired by the Saskatoon Blades last January.
Two of the most pleasant surprises for Vancouver this season were Adam Hall and Bryce Bader. The pair returned to the WHL after spending time in the AJHL and cracked the double digit mark in points, which could earn them a spot on the roster this fall.
The most exciting development for the offence though had to be the play of 18-year-old Zack Ostapchuk. The 12th overall pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft doubled his point totals from his rookie season in half of the games and could be a nice mid-round pick in next month’s NHL Draft.
- Alex Kannok Leipert (7-11-18 in 22 games)
- Connor Horning (1-5-6 in 22 games)
- Tanner Brown (2-8-10 in 22 games)
- Jacob Gendron (0-1-1 in 22 games)
- Marko Stacha (1-5-6 in 22 games)
- Nicco Camazzola (0-1-1 in 18 games)
- Brenden Pentecost (0-1-1 in 12 games)
- Damian Palmeri (4th round pick in 2019 – 1-0-1 in three games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-18 Prep Team – 7-15-22 in 29 games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-15 Prep Green Team in 2018-19)
- Mazden Leslie (5-0-5 in 17 games)
With Byram starting his pro career, one-time Washington Capitals draft pick Alex Kannok-Leipert became the go-to player for the Giants on defence. The Regina product was a finalist for WHL defenceman of the year award and should be a key contributor to whatever team he ends up with next.
Despite the shortened season, some of the performances on Vancouver’s blueline should help them going forward. 18-year-old Tanner Brown saw his point total jump from two in 57 games to 10 in 22 contests, 2020 import pick Marko Stacha was one of a handful of Europeans who got to play in the league this year and Mazden Leslie lit the lamp five times as an underage player after being picked 10th overall in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
Another blueliner that the Giants would love to try and bring in for next season is 17-year-old Joshua Niedermayer. Scott’s son was a second round pick in 2019 and had 11 points in 18 games during his rookie season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.
- Trent Miner (7-8-0 with a 2.16 GAA, a .915 save percentage and four shutouts – Colorado Avalanche prospect)
- Braedy Euerby (5th round pick in 2017 – 3-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA, a .963 save percentage and zero shutouts for the Richmond Sockeyes – 8-6-0 with a 2.54 GAA, a .907 save percentage and one shutout for the Delta Ice Hawks and the Sockeyes)
- Drew Sim (5-2-0 with a 3.20 GAA, an .828 save percentage and one shutout)
With Tendeck joining the Arizona Coyotes organization, Trent Miner finally got the chance to take over the starting duties for the Giants in his third season for the team. His stellar numbers in Vancouver and his strong stint to start the year with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles allowed the 20-year-old from Brandon to sign an entry-level deal with the Colorado Avalanche side that picked him in the seventh round two years ago.
While he’s only played in 11 games in a Giants uniform over the last two years, Drew Sim will probably be leading the way in between the pipes for the team next fall, unless they make any moves in the coming months. They did select Colin Reay of the OHA Edmonton Under-15 team and Jack Hochsprung of the Lakeville South Under-14 program last spring, but neither has signed with the club as of yet.
Barring Miner’s return as an overage netminder, Sourdif will be the only person on next year’s Giants squad that was a full-time member of the team when they faced the Prince Albert Raiders in the 2019 WHL final.
Although there is still a transition phase going on for the Giants, especially in goal, the pieces are there for them to be a solid squad next season. Sourdif will be among one of the best players in the league and will lead a strong offence, while the blueline should get better as the season goes on. However, if they are able to land Niedermayer, Bowden Singleton or potential 2021 NHL Draft first round pick Fabian Lysell this summer, that might make them more of a legit threat.
In terms of draft picks, Vancouver owns their first round pick (11th overall) and their fourth round pick for December’s Prospect Draft, in addition to a pair of fifth round selections they acquired from Prince Albert and Medicine Hat in the Brayden Watts and Lukas Svejkovsky trades during the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.
They are also in really good shape for 2022 as they have their own picks in the first five rounds and could land a conditional fifth round selection from Moose Jaw that was part of a Sept. 2019 trade involving Jadon Joseph.