That’s the distance the Vancouver Giants have traveled since they left for their East Division trip on Monday morning after taking on the Kelowna Rockets at the Langley Events Centre the night prior.
The first stop on the six-game road trip is Brandon, Manitoba, to take on the Wheat Kings Friday night at Westoba Place, an arena where one Giant grew up watching the team.
Goaltender Trent Miner played his minor hockey up until Midget AAA in the Brandon Wheat Kings minor hockey program, where he excelled enough to convince Vancouver to use a first-round pick (20th overall) on him at the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, after leading the entire Winnipeg Bantam AAA Division 1 (WBAAA) in goals-against average (1.52).
“It was definitely weird,” Miner said about arriving in Brandon as a member of the Giants. “Taking a different route to where we’re staying rather than just heading straight home (from the rink). It felt pretty cool just to look at it from a different angle.”
Brandon and Vancouver play each other once a season while rotating between home and away, meaning the Giants make their Manitoba trip every two years.
Miner has faced his hometown team once in his WHL career, on October 28, 2018, earning a 3-2 shootout win. He stopped 37-of-39 shots that night while also being named the game’s third star.
The six-foot-one, 181-pound netminder had a strong showing in his first full WHL season, compiling an impressive 24-5-1-1 record along with a 1.98 goals-against-average, .924 save percentage, and three shutouts. This all eventually led to him hearing his name called at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver after hours of waiting. The Colorado Avalanche selected him in the seventh round (202nd overall), one day after selecting his fellow Giants teammate Bowen Byram fourth overall.
You could hear the sigh of relief from the Miner section at the draft, after originally being projected as a mid-round pick.
To start the 2019-20 season, Miner has had a bit of a shaky start in three games. He has a 1-2 record to go with a 4.07 goals-against average and a .842 save percentage. During that time, the team as a whole struggled to find their game, dropping two straight, including their home opener after a 2-0 start to their season.
Vancouver made sure they wouldn’t be heading East with the bitter taste of a three game losing skid on their long bus ride by beating Kelowna 4-0 in convincing fashion, only surrendering 14 shots the entire game.
“We ended on a high note beating Kelowna the way we did, so we have lots of confidence going into this trip. Obviously we’re playing good teams, but I think we feel good so I think that will bring us even closer than we were before,” Miner said about the team entering their trip coming off of a win.
That same support group of family and friends that Miner had at the draft will also be in the 18-year-old’s corner, regardless of whether he gets the start come Friday in Brandon and even the next day for the Giants’ first ever game played in Winnipeg.
“I know, for the Brandon game, I have family coming as well as the Winnipeg (ICE) game.” Miner continued, saying, “I’m definitely excited to see everybody, but I think we all understand that coming out here aren’t easy games, so we’ll have to buckle down here and get to work.”
Giant Thoughts….Vancouver is 10-8-0-0 all time against the Wheat Kings….Brandon also has an Avalanche prospect of their own, Luka Burzan, from nearby Surrey, BC, who was taken the round before Miner….The Giants return to the LEC on October 19th to face the Swift Current Broncos….