It seems only appropriate the Vancouver Giants have a Valentine’s Day date with one of their biggest rivals, the Tri-City Americans.
This though has been a one-sided love affair. The Americans can’t wait to play the Giants because they have won 17 of the last 20 head to head meetings, including playoffs. This season the Giants are 0-2-0-0 vs. Tri-City, falling 5-0 back on October 15 in Kennewick, Washington and a lopsided 11-4 loss on home ice in mid January. A game in which the Giants lost Brendan Gallagher, Adam Morrison, and Dalton Sward to injury. Tuesday’s game in Kennewick is the third of four meetings this year between Tri-City and Vancouver and kicks off a busy week in which the Giants will play 5 games in 6 days.
Following Tuesday’s game, the Giants will head to Spokane for a Wednesday night tilt with the Chiefs. It will be the second and final meeting of the year between the Giants and Chiefs. Vancouver defeated Spokane 3-2 in a shootout back on October 5, Adam Morrison’s first game with the Giants. This is a crucial game as both teams are battling for home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Spokane (31-17-4-3-) currently sits in 3rd spot in the US Division and 4th overall in the Western Conference, just 2 points up on the 5th place Giants (32-21-1-2). Since coming back from the Christmas break the Chiefs are 16-6-2-0. 19 year old blueliner Brenden Kichton is the player to watch. One of the last cuts at Canada’s World Junior Camp in December, Kichton leads all WHL defencemen in points with 13 goals and 44 assists for 57 points in 54 games this year. In terms of goaltending the Chiefs have alternated between Mac Engel and Eric Williams over the last 7 games. Spokane still has 17 games remaining in their regular season schedule, 7 at home and 10 on the road, including 4 games vs. the Tri-City Americans. The Giants are 19-12-1-2 and 1 tie all-time vs. the Chiefs.The Americans (38-14-1-1) currently sit in 1st place in the US Division and 2nd in the Western Conference with 78 points. They are 6 points back of 1st place Kamloops in the conference and just 1 point up on 3rd place Portland. Since beating the Giants back on January 13, the Americans have gone into a funk managing just 5 wins in their last 13 games. They are led by 20 year old snipers Brendan Shinnimin (51GP, 34G, 51A, 85PTS) and Adam Hughesman (54GP, 32G, 52A, 84PTS), who sit 6th and 7th in league scoring. The goaltending duties have been basically split; Ty Rimmer is 22-9-0-1 with a 2.37 GAA, a .923 SV%, and 5 shutouts, while 16 year old rookie Eric Comrie is 16-5-1-0 with a 2.59 GAA, a .899 SV%, and 3 shutouts. Tri-City has 18 games remaining in their regular season schedule, 10 home games and 8 road games. They have given up the fewest goals in the WHL this season, allowing only 139 in 54 games.
The Giants head into the two game road trip having won 4 of their last 6 games. They have 16 games remaining in their regular season schedule, 8 at home and 8 on the road. Tuesday’s game in Tri-City will mark the 296th career regular season game for defenceman Neil Manning in a Vancouver Giants uniform, the most in franchise history. He passes former captain Craig Cunningham. As for Brendan Gallagher he continues to chase every major offensive record. He is tied with Adam Courchaine for the most goals in franchise history, is 15 assists back of Jonathon Blum for the most career assists, and only 7 points behind Courchaine for the most points in franchise history.