Fresh off clinching the top record in the Western Conference standings, the Vancouver Giants will meet up with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL playoffs for the second time in 18 years.
The Giants’ first two playoff games will happen on home ice, at the Langley Events Centre tonight.
The first game, on Friday, March 22 starts at 7:30 p.m., followed by another game Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Then, the team heads south of the border, next Tuesday and Wednesday (March 26 and 27) for games in Kent, Wash.
In their most recent match up against Seattle, which was only last week (Tuesday, March 12), the Giants defeated the Thunderbirds by a score of 5-1.
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The next time they hit the ice in competition, they did so at home on Friday night, before a crowd of 4,560 strong for their fan appreciation night at Langley Events Centre.
In that game, against the Kelowna Rockets, they earned a 2-1 victory. It was the sixth win against Kelowna, and their 26th win of the season on home ice.
But the Rockets weren’t giving up without a fight. Kelowna came back to win the next game against the G-Men on Saturday, in the Interior. During their last game of the regular season the Giants fell 3-2 in overtime to the Rockets.
Reflecting back on the season, the team has won 48 games, the third most wins ever recorded by the Giants in their 18-year history.
That translated to 101 points on the season, which ultimately allowed the Giants to finish atop the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips.
This is the third time in the team’s existence that they’ve finished first in the Western Conference standings.
In fact, it’s been many years, 10 to be exact, since the G-Men finished first in the Western Conference. The last time was during the 2008-’09 season when they finished with 119 points. The time before that, they topped the Western Conference in 2005-’06, when they finished with 100 points.
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A confident-sounding Vancouver Giants head coach Michael Dyck is predicting fans will see a “great series.”
“They’re a physical team and they work hard,” he said of the Thunderbirds.
“It should be great hockey,” said Dyck, who was named Coach of the Year in the Western Hockey League this week.
Both teams have the tools to win, and will likely deploy everything they have during the series, said Dyck, ending his first season with the team.
“I would say that’s what playoff hockey is going to be all about,” Dyck said.
“It’s going to be a physical game, it’s going to be a fast game and it’s going to come down to goal tending and specialty teams.”
He said the Giants will be ready for whatever the Thunderbirds bring.
“We should be ready to roll [Friday],” Dyck said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
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