Rob Wilton and Gary Ahuja

Hawco’s Giant Thoughts: Is the recent success sustainable?

 

Edition two of “Hawco’s Giant Thoughts” is here and the Vancouver Giants are still winning hockey games.

More importantly, divisional games.

If you missed the pilot edition of this column that I posted last week, you can read it here.

Since last week’s “Thoughts”, the Giants won two games, both in fairly convincing fashion with a 5-2 win over Prince George and a 7-3 win over the division-leading Kamloops Blazers.

If my math is correct (it usually isn’t) that means the Giants are on a six-game winning streak, which so happens to be the longest active streak in the WHL.

HOW?….

Leading the way for the Giants on the weekend was overage forward Tyler Preziuso who had six points in the two games, including a four-point effort in the Kamloops game, which helped earn him CHL Team of the Week honours.

Trent Miner and David Tendeck split the goalie duties, both looking sharp.

Miner made 27 saves on 29 shots while Tendeck had more work while stopping 34 of 37 shots on goal.

The biggest save of the weekend goes to…

That just so happened to be one of the WHL’s top goal scorers, Connor Zary, taking a shorthanded penalty shot with Tendeck making it look easy as can be.

SUSTAINABLE?…

Nothing lasts forever.

Something that doesn’t look like is going to end in the near future is the team’s recent success.

Here’s why…

Schedule

In the next week Vancouver plays four games, three at home, starting with Red Deer on Wednesday, then Victoria Friday and finally a home-and-home with Seattle on Saturday and Monday.

Red Deer (18-29-2-3, 41pts) realistically should be a win for the Giants.

They’re a very young team, having eleven 17-year-olds on their current roster and are in a transitional year.

The Rebels dropped a 3-1 decision to Victoria last night before while actually out-shooting the Royals 38-28.

Speaking of the Royals (29-18-4-1, 63pts), they’ve been heating up as of late.

They’re currently on a four-game winning streak of their own after hitting a bit of a slump. They currently sit eight points ahead of the Giants (Vancouver has two games in hand) for second place in the BC Division.

The season series is an even 3-3 between the Giants and Royals but Vancouver has won the past two meetings.

Historically Victoria has had the Giants’ number since their move to Victoria.

The division is currently looking like a three-horse race unless the Memorial Cup host Kelowna Rockets start going on a bit of a tear when they get their injured players back such as Nolan Foote and Matthew Wedman. They sit six points behind the Giants with one extra game played.

Lastly, the Seattle Thunderbirds (21-24-3-3) have been playing average hockey as of late.

They’ve had a hard time stringing wins together in groups so you’d have to believe Vancouver will at the very least split the home-and-home.

After reading through that, there is no reason why coming into next week’s version of “Thoughts” that the Giants will have won at least three out of their four games.

Yes, that would mean the end of the winning streak, but refer to the first line of this section.

Consistency despite leveling numbers

What I mean by that title is some of the Giants’ stats maybe a touch inflated due to this recent string of success.

The power play, for example, is over 40% in the last dozen or so games, which of course is not sustainable in itself.

These numbers we’re seeing from certain players, as well as the aforementioned power play, will of course level out but it won’t stop the team from having the success they’re having now.

There is a poise and structure to this team’s game and it’s starting to give you back the feeling that they can genuinely compete with any team on any given night.

Not something that could really have been said for a good portion of the year.

The squad is doing it all by committee, continuing to get contributions from guys that I mentioned last week in Holden Katzalay who has goals in three straight games and Michal Kvasnica who is around the point-per-game clip in the last half-dozen games.

One name that rarely comes up in Giants’ media pieces is Justin Lies.

The 16-year-old has found himself somewhat in and out of the lineup, playing in 37 out of 50 games, had himself two assists on Sunday against Kamloops, matching a third of his offensive production in his first 36 games.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK…

WE’RE GOING STREAKING…

Eric Florchuk – seven games – 13 points (3G, 10A)

Justin Sourdif – six games – nine points (4G, 5A)

Bowen Byram – five games – 11 points (2G, 9A)

Milos Roman – five games – six points (3G, 3A)

Tyler Preziuso – three games – eight points (5G, 3A)

Holden Katzalay – three games – five points (3G, 2A) – three-game goal streak

 

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