Giants coach: ‘It’s not an oil change, it can’t be fixed in 20 minutes’

Giants take their lumps, eye better 2017/18 season after wrapping up first campaign out of Langley Events Centre

They had hoped to contend for a playoff spot in 2016/17, but instead the Vancouver Giants took a step backwards.

The Giants missed the Western Hockey League post-season for the third consecutive year.

The goal, at the start of the major junior hockey club’s first campaign out of the Langley Events Centre, was to be in contention to play into the spring. But injuries to their top defenceman, Darian Skeoch in December, and biggest offensive threat, forward Tyler Benson in January derailed any of those dreams.

The Giants finished the season with a record of 20-46-3-3 and their 46 points were the third-lowest in franchise history.

And it was a tale of two halves for the team.

The Giants recovered from a brutal start which saw them win just once in their first eight games to sit with 31 points (14-19-1-2) at the midway point of the 72-game schedule.

The season’s second half began well enough with two victories in three games, putting the team on pace for 65 points. And while 65 points was still well short of the 80 points the Victoria Royals had in nabbing the final Western Conference playoff berth, the team was at least showing competitiveness up until that point.

What followed instead was just six victories and 15 points over the final 33 games.

“I have said it before, it is not an oil change, it can’t be fixed in 20 minutes; it is going to take some time,” said rookie head coach Jason McKee.

“When I came out here, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task, I knew it was going to take some time.

“We made some strides along the way (and) we had some ups and downs, no question. But we have an opportunity to return a lot of players.”

The Giants wisely shipped out some veteran players for younger prospects and draft picks at the WHL trade deadline. And while it made for some rough nights on the ice, results-wise, it did give the team’s younger players a bigger opportunity.

“For the most part in our division, 17-year-olds aren’t running power plays, killing penalties and doing those things,” McKee said.

“Our guys got a ton of experience doing that. Was it tough at times? Absolutely. Our hope is that we are better for it down the road.”

One of the players who took advantage of the increased opportunity was James Malm.

Malm — in his first full season of major junior — responded with 20 goals and 51 points, both of which were second on the team, behind only Ty Ronning (25 goals, 53 points).

Malm still has three years of junior eligibility.

Another surprise up front was Jack Flaman, who went from one goal in 42 games as an 18-year-old to 15 goals.

On the back-end, Matt Barberis struggled with injuries for a second straight year, but once again showed that he can produce offensively in the line-up.

In 48 games, Barberis produced 10 goals and 25 points.

“He scored some NHL-style goals and gave us some hope for the future that he can be the point, the top of the umbrella on the power play,” said general manager Glen Hanlon.

Centre Dawson Holt also caught the GM’s eye, when he was in the line-up.

“When he played, we felt he gave us what we needed,” Hanlon said.

The fifth overall pick in the WHL bantam draft in 2014, Holt managed six goals and 14 points in 39 games as he suffered through three different shoulder injuries.

As for what comes next season, one area Hanlon would like to address is the team’s 19-year-old players.

“We have a gap in the 1998-year. We don’t have a lot of experience from that group,” he said. “If you look at the top teams in the league, they usually have seven or eight 19-year-olds and then solid 20 (year-olds).”

Out of the Giants’ 2013 draft, only four players are still with the team but only one has played consistently — goaltender Ryan Kubic.

Benson has missed 81 games the past two seasons while Barberis has missed 47. Riley McKintry missed all of this past season and only suited up in 11 games the season before with concussion issues.

McKee said the plan will be to surround the Giants returning core with some older players, either via trade or through the import draft (they finished the season with just one import but can carry two).

He also expects training camp to more competitive. Last year, Vancouver did not have as many players signed as the Giants went through the off-season transition of finding both a new general manager and coach.

McKee expects 10 or 11 legitimate options along the blue-line.

They also could welcome a pair of young but promising defencemen coming off stellar seasons.

Bowen Byram, who turns 16 this summer,  was named the top defenceman in the CSSHL midget prep league with Yale while Alex Kannok-Leipert — who turns 17 in July — was the top defenceman in the Saskatchewan Midget League. Byram played 11 games for Vancouver this season while Kannok-Leipert played in eight.

Team falls one spot after draft lottery

With the season now done, the Giants scouting staff will prepare for the WHL bantam draft  May 4.

Vancouver has the third overall selection, as well as a handful of extra picks they acquired at the trade deadline.

Giants hand out year-end awards

Prior to puck drop ahead of Saturday night’s home finale at the Langley Events Centre, the Vancouver Giants handed out their year-end awards with Ty Ronning, James Malm and Ryan Kubic each picking up a trio of honours.

The three players were the recipients of the team’s Three Stars Award, having accumulated the most selections over the course of the season.

Ronning also picked up the P.C. Toigo Most Valuable Player award as well as the Gordie Howe Top Scorer award after leading the team with 25 goals and 53 points.

Malm, who finished two points behind Ronning for the scoring lead, won both the most improved and most sportsmanlike awards.

Kubic, the team’s main goaltender, won  the Player’s Choice Award (as selected by the fans) and the unsung hero (as chosen by his teammates).

Other award winners included:

Buble Ironman Award: Jeff Rayman

Pat Quinn Top Defenceman: Matt Barberis

Milan Ilich Rookie of the Year: Tyler Popowich

Graduation Awards: Jeff Rayman and Calvin Spencer

Bruce Allen Inspirational Leader: Jack Flaman

White Spot Humanitarian of the Year: Jack Flaman

Save-On-Foods High School Scholastic Player of the Year: Dylan Plouffe

Sultan Thiara Plus/Minus Award: Darian Skeoch

Jock McGrandle Volunteer of the Year: Kyle Ross

Season Ticket Holder of the Year: Maurice and Jennifer Brule


Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

Pumpkins outside Malvinder Gill’s farm on 152nd Street in Surrey. (submitted photo: Sarah Wilson)
At Surrey farm, free pumpkins for donation to food bank

‘Amazing for the community, especially during the pandemic,’ says one local resident

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Six Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Delview Thanks4Giving committee members Alexa Liptak (left) and Amanda Quibing stand with the donation box outside the school’s front entrance. (James Smith photo)
Thanks 4 Giving food drive going drive-thru due to COVID-19

Organizers hope North Delta residents will come to them for Delview Secondary’s annual food drive

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Most Read