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Vancouver Province article (Small, sure, but feisty too)

March 17 2009 at 7:36 AM
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Small, sure, but feisty too

5-foot-6, 150-pound Gallagher won't back down one bit

By Steve Ewen, The Province

March 17, 2009 7:02 AM

Vancouver Giants # 11 Brendan Gallagher and Prince George Cougars #12 Nick Buonassisi fight during first period WHL action, Vancouver, March 14.Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, Province filesBrendan Gallagher had to be a Crash Test Dummy in another life.

The Vancouver Giants rookie winger stands 5-foot-6 and weighs 150 pounds, and there's not a single ounce of fear on him.

He's a fracas-magnet: two or three times a game there will be a pile-up at the opposing net and when they're done peeling the bodies off it will undoubtedly be Gallagher at the bottom of the scrum.

He'll get up grinning, grinning like crazy. Part of that is to infuriate opponents, you can bet, but part too is that he really seems to love ignoring that he's the smallest player in the WHL.

"He knows what he has to do and it doesn't matter if he takes a good licking from a bigger defenceman," said Vancouver blueliner Jon Blum, the team's captain. "He'll keep going to the net and that's why he had a good season for us.

"A lot of the guys have a lot of respect for him, doing the stuff he does. Hopefully he can take that into the playoffs and give us another boost."

Blum gets it. The next lazy shift he has will be the first of his four-year Giants career and his size has been questioned regularly.

Their positions are different, but still consider Blum, who is listed at 6-feet and 175 pounds, is six inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Gallagher.

There are two players in the league Gallagher's height, and both Medicine Hat Tigers winger Joey Frazer (5-foot-6, 162 pounds) and Everett Silvertips centre Zack Dailey (5-foot-6, 166 pounds) are heavier.

Besides seeing eye-to-eye with Dailey, Gallagher has also gone toe-to-toe with the Silvertips veteran. They duked it out in a Feb. 28 game.

Gallagher's had two other bouts this season, including dropping the mitts with Prince George Cougars forward Nick Buonassisi (5-foot-9, 162 pounds) during Saturday's four-fights-at-once stoppage. That episode was an obvious attempt by both teams at setting a tone for their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series, which begins Friday at the Pacific Coliseum.

"He's got a lot of courage," Giants winger Lance Bouma said of Gallagher. "We didn't know that at the start of the season, but now we know."

Defenceman Mike Berube added: "When you have a big heart, it helps a lot."

Gallagher lasted until the ninth round of the 2007 bantam draft. Vancouver had extra knowledge about him since his father, Ian Gallagher, is the team's strength and conditioning coach.

Head coach Don Hay referred to the junior Gallagher as a "really smart, young guy" at training camp and Hay, who covets intelligent players more than anything else, awarded him a roster spot.

Gallagher hasn't let Hay down. Beside the obvious energy he provides, his 31 points -- including 10 goals in 52 regular-season games -- made him the league's sixth-highest scoring 16-year-old this season. He also had a plus-26 rating.

And he's promising that he can keep playing his fearless style.

"I've been watching the league for years, so I knew what to expect. I knew that the guys were going to be big," said Gallagher. "It doesn't change how I have to play.

"I don't think it's going to change in the playoffs."

WHL playoffs: Prince George vs. Vancouver

Western quarterfinal

Prince George Cougars

vs. Vancouver Giants

Game 1 -- Friday, 7:30 p.m., Pacific Coliseum

Game 2 -- Saturday, 7 p.m., Pacific Coliseum

Game 3 -- March 24, 7 p.m., Prince George

Game 4 -- March 25, 7 p.m., Prince George

x-Game 5 -- March 27, 7:30 p.m., Pacific Coliseum

x-Game 6 -- March 29, 2 p.m., Prince George

x-Game 7 -- March 31, 7 p.m., Pacific Coliseum

x-if necessary

© Copyright (c) The Province

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