Back In Alberta
Grey cup fever is alive and well in the City of Champions, however a prelude to the big game on Sunday will be Friday nightís tilt between the Vancouver Giants and Edmonton Oil Kings. The Giants arrived in Edmonton Thursday morning after an over night bus ride that took just under 14 hours. The road conditions were decent and the team was pleased to arrive to find the temperature was a balmy -1.
Getting to a city a day before the game is a huge benefit as it allows the players to get their legs back after such a long bus ride. First on the agenda was a spirited practice at Kinsman arena near our hotel on the southside of town. A practice that included Don Hayís good friend and former NHL coach Ken Hitchcock, as well as three Giants products; defencemen Brett Kulak, Tyler Morrison, and Sean Dupras. Following practice the team will return to the hotel to clean up and eat and then it is off to Rexall Place to see former Giant Gilbert Brule and his Edmonton Oilers take on the Colorado Avalanche.
Fridayís game will be the second of final meeting of the season between Vancouver and Edmonton and head coach Don Hayís first crack and earning his 500th career victory as a coach in the WHL. The Giants defeated the Oil Kings 4-2 back on October 30th at Rexall Place. Matt MacKay, Brendan Gallagher, Matt Bellerive, and James Henry scored in the win, while Brendan Jensen made 35 saves for the win. Vancouver is a perfect 7-0 all time vs. Edmonton since they joined the WHL in 2007. The Oil Kings currently sit 5th in the Central Division with 19 points on the year and have won 2 of their last 3 games. They feature three players who Dadís played in the NHL; Michael St. Croix (Dad Rick was a goalie with the Maple Leafs and Flyers), Griffin Reinhart (Dad Paul played defence for the Canucks and Flames), and Keegan Lowe (Dad Kevin won 6 Stanley Cups with the Oilers and Rangers and currently is the President of the Oilers).
On Saturday the Giants will head south to Red Deer to take on the Rebels. Red Deer is off to a great start, leading the Central Division with a 16-7-1-2- record. Hard to believe, but it will the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Red Deer won the first game back on October 29th 5-2 on the strength of 3 power play goals. Nathan Burns had both goals in a losing cause. The Giants though got a little revenge at the Pacific Coliseum on November 10th defeating the Rebels 3-2 in a shootout. Rookie Matt Bellerive scored the winner in the 7th round to give the Giants the 2 points. Following the game in Red Deer the boys will be back on the bus and heading west, returning home after this quick two game stand in Alberta.
Be sure to tune into both games live on AM 650, beginning Friday at 5:30pm PST for the Oil Kings and Giants and then 6:00PM PST Saturday as Vancouver and Red Deer do battle.