Vancouver Province article (Energy the watchword for Vancouver)April 14 2008 at 7:35 AM
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Energy the watchword for Vancouver
Hay rests players, hoping to see a good start as team faces elimination
Steve Ewen, The Province
Published: Monday, April 14, 2008
Their fans have to hope the Vancouver Giants are bringing savvy back.
It's the Spokane Chiefs, and not the Giants, who have looked like the playoff veterans in this Western Conference semifinal. And that's despite the fact Chiefs players have suited up for a combined 276 fewer postseason games than Vancouver's lineup.
The Giants couldn't build on a gutsy 3-1 win in Friday's Game 4, giving up two odd-man-rush goals in a listless first six minutes Saturday en route to a 4-0 loss in Game 5.
And now, trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven and with all the momentum back with the Chiefs, the Giants must win twice in Spokane, beginning tonight, to prolong their hockey season.
This team, with everything it has been through, knows exactly what it takes. It simply didn't show that at all Saturday.
"It's so hard to come from behind in a game, and especially in playoffs," said winger Garet Hunt before hopping on the team bus and heading south Sunday afternoon.
"That first period [tonight], we have to be a whole lot better. We need a lot more energy, a lot more enthusiasm ... just a lot more will.
"They played a lot better than us. They had a lot more energy than us."
It's come to this: Hunt, who's as big a fan favourite as the Giants have had in their brief history, has played his last game at the Pacific Coliseum unless the Giants find a way to win both nights in Spokane.
Centre Mario Bliznak and defenceman R.J. LaRochelle, who are over-agers like Hunt, are in the same situation.
Wingers Spencer Machacek and Michal Repik are likely going to play pro somewhere else next year, so they, too, could be finished with their Vancouver careers in the next day or two.
"It's definitely gone through my mind, thinking about that," said Hunt.
"I'm not ready to be done. I don't think R.J. or Bliznak are, either. We want to get the chance to compete. We get a chance to go back at them ... and we're excited.
"They had a lot more fire than us last game. We need to come out and be excited."
Coach Don Hay agrees. He said the Giants needs to get their energy back. To that end, he didn't skate the players before they left and there were no plans for any sort of workout once they arrived in Spokane.
Vancouver's defencemen in particular have looked worn out by Spokane's forecheck.
"We need to get off to a good start," said Hay, whose players came into the series with 492 combined postseason games, including Memorial Cups. "We can't get off to the start we had last game and have success."
Team captain Spencer Machacek, a winger, added: "I don't want to say 'guarantee' about a better first period, but I do know that the guys will be ready to go hard."
© The Vancouver Province 2008
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