Welcome to the first edition of “Hawco’s Giant Thoughts“, my new weekly column surrounding the Vancouver Giants. (Real original name, I know.)
This will be a place for opinions, stats, and just general news surrounding the Giants. Something a little bit more casual than game recaps and player features.
I am also hoping to include some interactions via Twitter with Giants fans, or even WHL fans for that matter, whether it’s poll questions or seeing how people feel about where the team is going or what should change or even how they feel about what his being said in this column.
It is Wednesday as I am writing this, this doesn’t necessarily mean I will be writing a “Thoughts” for every Wednesday, though I will try my best to make the days consistent on a weekly basis.
But life gets in the way sometimes.
Speaking of which, it may be noticeable that I haven’t been covering the Giants as well or as consistent as I have been in the past.
For that, I apologize to those who support and read.
Without getting into too much detail, I’ve been trying to focus on myself a little bit (without sounding selfish) and my writing has suffered because of it. Trying to balance a full-time day job, part-time school and following my writing dreams while trying to have a social life can be overwhelming at times so I felt taking a brief step-back would be good.
Enough of that sob story, let’s talk hockey!
AS OF LATE….
After stumbling their way through the first half of this season, the Giants seemed to have finally found their stride in the last handful of games.
The club is currently riding a four-game winning streak (five straight with at least a point) where they have outscored their opponents by a whopping 23-11 margin.
Here’s a take…Vancouver is the hottest team in the ever-so-potent BC Division currently, something that would not have sounded like a big deal back in September.
Three of the four wins on their streak have come against divisional opponents, including a home-and-home sweep of the Kamloops Blazers last weekend.
Though against very inexperienced goaltending, the Giants put up a dozen goals (you read that correctly) in a 12-4 win over Tri-City on a rare Tuesday night game at the Langley Events Centre. The 12 goals are good enough for a franchise record for goals in a single game, while 17 of the Giants’ 18 skaters found the score sheet.
Two reasons jump to mind when explaining the recent success:
1: The power play
As early as two weeks ago, you would have seen the Vancouver Giants dead-last in the entire league for power-play percentage. How does that happen with the likes of Bowen Byram and Justin Sourdif on your team?
It was simple, the units weren’t buying what coach Michael Dyck was selling for the first half of the season.
Dyck continually said “The power play is only as good as the guys that are on it”.
Boy, have those guys been good.
During the team’s five-game point streak, they have scored multiple power-play goals in each game which has them at 11-for-23, good for 47.8%. Ridiculous.
Numbers like that have catapulted them to 15th in the WHL after riding along the basement floor for almost all of the first half and into the New Year.
2: Secondary scoring
The first name when I think of this is Michal Kvasnica.
After scoring just one goal in almost two months to start his Giants career, the import forward has scored five in his last four games. Two of those came on the man advantage and one being a game-winner.
Guys like Kvasnica are who the Giants were missing goals from when top guys were having a hard time producing early in the season. That’s been one of the biggest differences between this year’s team and last year’s that made the run to the WHL Final.
Another name is Holden Katzalay, who in the last four games (2G, 2A), has almost doubled his WHL career point totals.
Guys like that producing are a big part of what is needed to have a fighting chance in the dying days of the regular reason and postseason.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING….
Okay, that may be a bit much but here are some Giants who have been streaking on the score sheet as of late:
Eric Florchuk: Five-games – nine points (1G, 8A)
Tristen Nielsen: Four games – eight points (4G, 4A)
Justin Sourdif: Four games – seven points (3G, 4A)
Bowen Byram: Three games – seven points (2G, 5A)
Milos Roman – Three games – four points (2G, 2A)
Forward Kaden Kohle scored his first goal in the WHL in Tuesday’s blow out win, which happened to come against the team that traded him last month for forward John Little.
— Ben Dooley (@BenTDooley) February 5, 2020
The Giants are hosting a pair of divisional games this upcoming weekend, starting with the Prince George Cougars (15-26-3-4, 37pts) on Saturday followed by the Kamloops Blazers (32-13-3-1, 68pts) the next afternoon.
In the season series against the Cougars to date, Vancouver is 3-1-1-0.
Against the Blazers, the Giants had not won a game against the division leaders prior to last weekend. They are now 2-3-1-0 going into Sunday’s game.