B.C. boys arrive in trade
Vancouver starts shuffling to get bigger, tougher in WHL
By Marc Weber, The Province
December 30, 2010
New Giants acquired in trade with Portland Winterhawks are Spencer Bennett of White Rock (left) and Teal Burns of Victoria, both seen Wednesday practising with their new teammates at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, PNG, The Province
Spencer Bennett summed up his surprise and excitement over joining the Vancouver Giants perfectly before Wednesday's practice.
"It was the last place I expected to come, but one of the first places I'd want to go," the 20-year-old White Rock native said of moving from the Portland Winterhawks to the Giants in a big Tuesday trade.
Bennett, a left-winger, and 18-year-old Teal Burns of Victoria, a centre, are the tangible parts of a trade that sent captain Craig Cunningham to Portland.
Vancouver also gained a first-round bantam draft pick in 2011 and a second-rounder in 2012.
The hope is that coming home to B.C. will be a boost for Bennett and Burns.
Bennett, an unsigned fifth-round pick of the Calgary Flames, played for Burnaby and Surrey in the BCHL before joining Portland for the 2009-10 season.
Burns, in his first WHL season, was with Victoria and Nanaimo last year.
The pair will be afforded more ice time in Vancouver, especially Burns, who had lately been in and out of a Winterhawks' lineup stacked with skill. He was a point-a-game guy in the BCHL.
"He probably got lost a little bit in the talent shuffle down there," said Giants coach Don Hay. "We're hoping he finds a place to play here. Definitely, he's going to get more opportunity to play."
Hay was eager to get his first good look at the pair in practice.
Bennett will start on the top line with Brendan Rowinski at centre and Brendan Gallagher on right wing when the Giants host the Moose Jaw Warriors (21-13-0-2) tonight at Pacific Coliseum Burns is expected to centre Jordan Martinook and Dalton Sward.
"We're just trying to get a feel for everybody," said Hay.
The shuffling will continue for at least a couple of weeks. Giants general manager Scott Bonner said Tuesday there will be more deals before the Jan. 10 deadline.
The Giants (16-16-1-4) are trying to get bigger and tougher to play against. Chief among their problems is that they lose a lot of puck battles.
But there's no easy fix: They've been outscored 23-3 in their last four games and have lost six of seven -- all without top defence-man David Musil, who remains out indefinitely with a deep bone bruise above his right ankle.
There is, however, still a case for the optimists.
The B.C. Division is weak and the Giants are only three points out of first place, which comes with the reward of a No. 2 playoff seed and home ice in the Western Conference.
Bennett, who left a Memorial Cup contender in Portland, is focused on helping the Giants get there. A versatile forward, he has 12 goals and 21 points in 37 games this season.
"Obviously it's fun being down in Portland and winning games," he said, "but this team, as much as people say they're struggling, there's a lot of room for improvement. I'm going to try and help the young guys out and help the team in any way."
Said Hay: "We have to play with more of an attitude. There's a lot of holes in our game right now that we have to get better at." [email protected]
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Moose Jaw Warriors at Vancouver Giants 7 p.m., Pacific Coliseum Radio: AM 650
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