Dan Elliott

The Vancouver Giants go back to work Saturday night when they play host to the Portland Winterhawks. Just 3 points separate these two teams in the Western Conference standings. Portland (25-11-2-1) sits in 2nd place in the US Division and 3rd in the Western Conference, while Vancouver (24-14-1-1-) is in 2nd spot in the BC Division and 4th in the Western Conference. The Giants are 15-8-0-0 and 1 tie all-time vs. the Winterhawks during the regular season at the Pacific Coliseum.

Saturday marks the second of four meetings this season between the Giants and Winterhawks. Vancouver defeated Portland 5-3 in the lone meeting back on December 9 at the Pacific Coliseum on Teddy Bear Toss night. The Giants jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Jordan Martinook scored his 2nd hat trick of the season and Adam Morrison was stellar in net making 46 saves and earning 1st star honours in the victory.

After winning a bronze medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships head coach Don Hay (missed 9 games) and Brendan Gallagher (missed 8 games) will both be back with the Giants, as will David Musil (missed 5 games) and Marek Tvrdon (missed 6 games). Also making their return from the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in which they finished 5th with Team Pacific will be Anthony Ast (missed 4 games) and Jackson Houck (missed 4 games). The Giants were 5-4-0-0 under interim head coach Glen Hanlon and are coming off a 6-4 loss Wednesday night vs. the Calgary Hitmen.

The defending Western Conference Champions from Portland head into the weekend on a 5 game winning streak. They will play host to Everett on Friday night before making the trip to Vancouver on Saturday. The Winterhawks are the second highest scoring team in the league and boast the league’s leading scorer in Ty Rattie. He has 37 goals in 37 games and a WHL best 69 points, 4 more then Brandon’s Mark Stone. Rattie is riding a 5 game point streak in which he has 5 goals and 5 assists. Sven Bartschi leads the league in assists with 42; however, he suffered a concussion at the World Juniors while playing for Switzerland and missed their final 4 games, so his status is up in the air. Goaltender Mac Carruth has been a busy man this year. He has played in 36 of the Winterhawks 39 games and leads the league in wins with 24, one more then Vancouver’s Adam Morrison.

Special teams is always a factor when playing Portland. They have the best power play in the league at 27.9% and the 3rd best penalty kill operating at 82.7% efficiency. As for the Giants, their power play is now ranked 9th at 21.9%, while the penalty kill is 4th best in the WHL at 82.2%.

Saturday is also the second installment of the Giants Legends Series, featuring Montreal Canadiens legend, Guy Lafleur.

The first 5,000 fans through the doors will receive a commemorative poster, while each and every fan will receive a special scratch ticket as they enter the rink. Those scratch tickets will contain 100 GRAND PRIZE winners who will get to meet “The Flower” during the game! Plus we’ll give away loads of other prizes including Giants team autographed sticks and free tickets to future games!

You don’t want to miss Canadian Direct Insurance Legends Night featuring Guy Lafleur, with the Giants hosting the Portland Winterhawks, this Saturday, January 7 at 7pm. Presented by Peller Estates and the River Rock Casino Resort. This Top 10 Special Event also brought to you in part by Global BC.