When you think of the best netminders to come through the Vancouver Giants organization, David Tendeck is one of the first to come to one’s mind.
The North Vancouver, BC, native played in parts of five seasons with the Giants who selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
He leaves the Giants as the franchise leader in saves, second in games played, second in wins and tied for third in shutouts, to quickly summarize his accomplishments.
After seeing all of that, it feels very unjust knowing that he isn’t leaving the Giants and the WHL in the right way.
As everyone who follows the WHL or sports in the slightest fashion or sees the news already knows, the season was halted with six games remaining on the Giants schedule due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
It’s obviously a tough pill to swallow but even more so for those around this Giants team. They had been playing their best hockey in the second half and were ready to carry that momentum into the playoffs.
“This season was an interesting one,” said Tendeck. “I always knew from the start though that we had a team that had a chance to make a long run. It’s unfortunate just as we were heating up that it ended. It’s pretty tough.”
The WHL season wasn’t cancelled right away; it was initially suspended for what was thought to be a short amount of time until the dust settled a bit. Such was not the case as it turned out.
“We had a lot of hope (that the season would continue). We didn’t think the regular season would start up again, but we were pretty confident the playoffs would. We basically got sent home and the message was we were going to start back up in a couple weeks so everyone was staying fit and getting ready, but obviously things changed,” said Tendeck.
A silver lining did come out of the string of bad news for the longtime Giant as he inked a three-year entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes on April 6th. The Coyotes drafted him in the sixth round (158th overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Tendeck joined the Giants full-time during the 2016-17 season and appeared in 22 games on a struggling Giants team that only won 20 of its 72 games. His stats don’t quite do him justice, but this period started him on the path to continue to improve as each season went on.
“For me, I don’t really think of expectations (going into each season). I think that does the opposite when you do that. It’s always been about getting better everyday for me and I think that’s shown in my stats.”
Indeed it did show in his stats, improving on his rookie stat line of a 4.78 GAA and a .856 save percentage as a 17-year-old to a 2.29 GAA and a .920 save percentage as a 20-year-old in 35 games.
Countless memories are made throughout junior hockey, especially when a player has played as long as Tendeck did in the league.
When asked what his favourite part of playing in the WHL was, he did not hesitate to answer…
“The friendships in the room,” said Tendeck. “It was a lot of fun on the bus. It was hard some days with all the travelling to games in short periods of time on the weekends but that’s what made it fun. Just thinking how hard it was, you realize it wasn’t really hard at all, it was in your mind.”
As for a particular memory over the years…
“For me, it’s winning the Western Conference Final last year.”
The Giants defeated Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs in five games to advance to the WHL Championship. This was also the series when Tendeck fully took the reins in net after splitting the first two playoff rounds with Trent Miner.
From a personal view, David was always one of the hardest workers on the ice and you knew when you saw #30 in the starting line up that the Giants were going to have a chance in the game regardless. I feel very privileged to have been able to watch such a talented goaltender as well as interact with such a kind, pleasant young man. I wish him nothing but the best as he starts his professional career when hockey starts back up.
Some final words from your starting goaltender, Giants fans:
“It’s been a huge pleasure to play for this organization. I remember growing up watching the team play in the old Pacific Coliseum. I just want to thank all the fans for being there by our side even in the early seasons in my career when we weren’t doing so good. Thank you.”