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Vancouver Province article (A new version of Lucic)

November 6 2008 at 7:33 AM
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A new version of Lucic

Winger drives to net with courage

Steve Ewen, The Province

Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008

All the Vancouver Giants brain trust should want Lance Bouma to have for Christmas is some Boston Bruins highlight tapes.

It's early to start shopping, regardless of what the television commercials claim. Bouma's recent stretch makes him easy to buy for at least. The winger admits that the spike in his play corresponds with the Giants' field trip last Tuesday to GM Place to witness former teammate Milan Lucic and the Bruins face the Vancouver Canucks.

"It was fun watching him go out there and play the body, because I'd like to be that type of player, too," said Bouma, 18, whose rugged efforts helped him dominate in both Vancouver's 4-3 win over the Tri-City Americans last Wednesday and in a 4-3 triumph over the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday.

Giants Lance Bouma (bottom) is checked by Brandon Wheat King Brayden Schenn in action last week.

Nick Procaylo, The Province

"It helped to see it up close. He dominated at our level playing that way and he's doing it at the next level, too. If I can continue to do that, I have a chance to end up the same way he has."

Vancouver brass haven't been shy about wanting Bouma to emulate Lucic before. They had the pair in neighbouring stalls in their Pacific Coliseum and Ladner practice facility dressing rooms two seasons ago for that reason.

Bouma won't be a fighter in Lucic's class. Very few will. At 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, Bouma can have opposing defencemen ducking for cover on Vancouver's forecheck, which was part of Lucic's modus operandi.

Bouma might even be better than Lucic at driving to the net. When Bouma gets a head of steam up, you feel sorry for the posts and crossbar, let alone the goaltender.

"I think he should model his game after a player like Lucic, or a Tomas Holmstrom," said Giants coach Don Hay, pointing also to the Detroit Red Wings crease crasher. "He's going to have success at the net. He's not going to create a lot of offence with his shot. He's going to create offence with his body and courage.

"He's not as tough as Lucic. He's a better skater and he's a powerful guy. He's a bull when he moves his feet. When he moves his feet, he's a powerful man."

Centre James Wright added: "When he gets going, there's not much that can stop him. When he hits you, it hurts."

Bouma was Vancouver's second-round pick in the 2005 WHL bantam draft. Wright, who's off to a fine start himself, was the first. You can sense them, along with fellow 1990-birthday boy Craig Cunningham, start to take more ownership in the team.

That's important. Hay has built the club around internal competition, and the Giants' 1991 class, led by sniper Evander Kane, is impressive.

"We realize that we're a bigger part of the team this year," said Bouma, a third-round pick of the Calgary Flames this past NHL entry draft. "We have to make sure that we can be counted on every game."

© The Vancouver Province 2008

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