WHL in 30 Preview: Vancouver Giants at Kamloops Blazers
Vancouver Giants (32-21-6-3) at Kamloops Blazers (28-32-1-4)
Saturday, March 3 –Shaw TV 12 p.m. (Mountain)
With the race for the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division title heating up, WHL in 30 will remain in the Western Conference this week with the Vancouver Giants and Kamloops Blazers continuing their season series.
The Giants presently sit third in the division with 73 points while the Blazers are just on the outside of the playoff race with 61 points, six points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds for the second wildcard spot in the conference.
There will be plenty of motivation for both clubs coming into this week’s matchup. For the Giants, they’re four points away from returning to the WHL playoffs for the fist time since the 2013-14 season. On the flip side of things, the Blazers had a slow start to their season, but have played well enough since to put themselves into a playoff spot for a third straight season. They’ll need an extra boost in the remaining few weeks to get over the hump, but they’ve proven themselves to be capable of raising their game at the right time.
The two teams will have seen plenty of each other by the time the regular season comes to a close. The schedule will see the Giants and Blazers meet four times in 17 days, with the WHL in 30 broadcast the second of those four meetings.
Saturday’s edition of WHL in 30 will also feature the Kamloops Blazers donning Don Cherry-themed jerseys as part of the WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation – Presented by RE/MAX.
Kamloops’ offence is led this year by the breakout campaign of forward Jermaine Loewen. Coming into the season with 14 career goals in his first 170 regular season game, Loewen has 33 in his last 59 to lead the team. His 57 points also leads the Blazers this season. Loewen led the Blazers in February with 17 points (9G-8A) in 14 games.
Blazers captain Nick Chyzowski recently reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his WHL career. Since the 2014-15 season, he’s played at least 65 games a season, including appearing in all 72 games the past two seasons. Friday’s game will be the 337th of his WHL career and you know the overage forward would like to extend his career with another playoff run.
Rookie forward Brodi Stuart represents part of the future for the Blazers while also contributing in the present. His 35 points (15G-20A) lead all Western Conference rookies in scoring and places him third overall. Selected in the fourth round, 84th overall, by the Blazers in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, Smith has five power-play goals and two game-winning goals this season as well. He was named the WHL Rookie of the Month in November 2017.
Goaltender Dylan Ferguson (Vegas Golden Knights) went 8-1-0-1 between January 19 and February 10, but has cooled off recently. The Blazers would benefit with having him back on his game down the stretch and committing to better defensive efforts, especially against B.C. Division rivals when the games are magnified.
For the Giants, they have their own offensive talents to show off against the Blazers. Ty Ronning (New York Rangers) has continued his incredible season with 54 goals, placing him third in the league six off the lead. His 54 goals have already set a Giants’ franchise record for goals in a season while his 120 career WHL goals with the Giants have him quickly approaching Adam Courchaine’s 126 career goals for second on the Giants’ all-time list.
Captain Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers) is also having himself a career year 60 points (22G-38A) in 50 games, setting career-highs for goals, assists, and points. He’s also set a new career-high for game-winning goals in a season with four. Benson and Ronning tied for the team lead in February with 13 points each, Ronning scoring 10 goals and Benson recording 10 assists.
Defenceman Bowen Byram was recently named the WHL Rookie of the Month for February and has been a steady hand on the backend with 23 points (6G-17A) in 52 games.
Goaltender David Tendeck has put together a solid sophomore season, sitting second in save percentage (.917), third in goals-against-average (2.85) and ninth in victories (23). You’d be hard-pressed to find many other goaltenders as consistent as him and coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Blazers on Monday, the momentum will favour 6-foot-2, 173-pound 18-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C.
See how all the action plays out on this week’s edition of WHL in 30!
September 29 Kamloops 3 Vancouver 6
November 3 Kamloops 5 Vancouver 4
November 4 Vancouver 5 Kamloops 4
November 17 Vancouver 2 Kamloops 6
February 26 Kamloops 0 Vancouver 2
March 2 Vancouver at Kamloops*
March 3 Kamloops at Vancouver
March 14 Vancouver at Kamloops
*WHL in 30 broadcast
***PLEASE NOTE: WHL in 30 is a condensed format, 30-minute broadcast of the WHL Game of the Week, airing the day after the game is originally played.