Casey Pierro-Zabotel was a star for the Vancouver Giants from 2007 to 2009. The undrafted forward put up over a point a game in his Giants career. Although he was only a Giant for two years, his legacy lives on in Vancouver having had one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. In a recent interview, the two-time ECHL champion talked about his time with the Giants, and what playing in Vancouver was really like.
The Transition from BCHL to WHL
After three and a half successful seasons with the Merritt Centennials, Scott Bonner and the Giants gave Pierro-Zabotel an opportunity with the team. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for the Vancouver Giants,” Pierro-Zabotel says. Although Pierro-Zabotel put up a point a game in his first season, there were some difficulties with his transition into the league. “I had to get used to the size and speed of the WHL”. Pierro-Zabotel credits Don Hay for helping him transition into the league. “Don Hay was a really great coach… He helped with my success”. Pierro-Zabotel ended his first year with the Giants by registering 48 points in 49 games. To this day, he remains the third-highest point-getter by a rookie in franchise history.
In 2008-2009, Pierro-Zabotel put together a season that has yet to be matched by another player in franchise history. He had great chemistry with linemate Evander Kane, which led to one of the best seasons statistically in Giants history. During the 72-game campaign, Pierro-Zabotel registered 79 assists and 115 points. Both are records that still stand today. Pierro-Zabotel won the Bobby Clarke Trophy for most points in the season, as well as named to the CHL second all-star team. Pierro-Zabotel’s playmaking also led to Evander Kane putting up a then franchise-record 48 goals. Kane’s fantastic season led him to be selected fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrasher in 2009.
(Vancouver Giants- Chris Relke)
With Kane and Pierro-Zabotel leading the charge, the Giants made it all the way to the third round of the playoffs where they fell to the Memorial Cup runner up Kelowna Rockets. “This was a good experience and made me learn how to be a pro”. Pierro-Zabotel’s time with the Giants was over, and he was ready to move onto a pro career.
The Pacific Coliseum is a special place for many, and for Pierro-Zabotel it is no different. “Pacific Coliseum was one of my favourite places to play” Pierro-Zabotel explains. The Pacific Coliseum was home to a few milestones for Pierro-Zabotel. This including his first career game on November 16th, 2007, and his first career assist a few nights later. Other special nights included his first hat-trick on December 7th, 2007, and a four-point night against the Chilliwack Bruins in the last game of the year. Then on January 28th, 2009, Pierro-Zabotel passed Gilbert Brule for most points in a season in front of a packed home crowd of 8,663 people. The Pacific Coliseum played a part in many important moments in Pierro-Zabotel’s career, and that is why it still is one of his favourite arenas.
Life after the Giants:
After his record-breaking season, Pierro-Zabotel signed a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins had already drafted Pierro-Zabotel back in 2007 in the third round. Pierro-Zabotel would go on to play 11 seasons in the ECHL highlighted by back to back championships in 2016 and 2017. In the 2017-18 season, Pierro-Zabotel had the opportunity to be a player-coach with the Allen Americans. “It was a cool experience to be a player-coach in 2017-18,” Pierro-Zabotel says. His main job was to help plan for upcoming games as well as assist with practices. Last season with the Adirondack Thunder, Pierro-Zabotel put up 24 goals and 39 points in 63 games. He currently sits 19th in all-time ECHL points with 543, and ninth in assists with 370.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel (Shusawp)
Two time Kelly Cup Champion(ECHL)
2017 Colorado Eagles
2016 Allen Americans pic.twitter.com/nPaRMobPU4
— Indigenous Athletes (@Indigenous_Ath) June 8, 2017
Pierro-Zabotel still follows the Giants even though more than a decade has passed since he last played for them. He also keeps in touch with some of his former Giants teammates. Although his time with Vancouver was short, Giants fans will always remember his record-setting season. From undrafted to a star in the WHL, Giants fans can be happy that Scott Bonner and his team took a chance and brought in Pierro-Zabotel.