The Sea-to-Sky Boner Report: Oct 26th 2013

That's Offside!
October 26 2013 11:36AM

Finally! Wins! Alec Baer is excited!
Finally! Wins! Alec Baer is excited!

Things are finally looking up for the Vancouver Giants. With the bulk of their injury woes behind them, they won back-to-back games for the first time this season, beating up a listless Kamloops Blazers squad before stunning the Eastern Conference leading Calgary Hitmen with a 4-3 overtime win. With 6 points in his last 3 games, Cain Franson appears to finally be heating up, and Brett Kulak has come alive to overtake captain Dalton Thrower for the team scoring lead.

Read past the jump for a closer look at how the Giants are turning things around.

For once, the bounces have been going the Giants' way on offence. They're shooting at a much more respectable rate of 8.27% this season thanks to four 4+ goal games in their last 5 outings. Not coincidentally, this offensive outburst comes at the same time that Cain Franson and Travis McEvoy return from injury and rookie centre Alec Baer rounds into form. The trio combined for 6 goals and 8 assists in the 3 games this past week, highlighted by this performance against the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday that featured highlight-reel goals from both Baer and Franson:

Cain Franson has now pulled himself into second in team scoring among forwards behind only Carter Popoff (who likes winning hockey games), and should catch Popoff with a couple more strong performances. Jackson Houck, who's had a disappointing start to 2013-14, should also begin to heat up soon and help the Giants pull themselves out of the Western Conference's cellar.

Goaltending though has still been an issue as Payton Lee continues to struggle to stop pucks. He is dead last in save percentage among starting goalies by a country mile. Sitting at 28th in the league, the difference between Lee's save percentage and 27th place Mack Shields' is as big as the gap separating Shields from 10th place Alex Moodie of Saskatoon. It's been ugly so far.

This hasn't gone unnoticed by Giants staff either as they fired goaltending coach Paul Fricker earlier this week. He will be replaced by former Ottawa Senators goalie coach Eli Wilson, who's NHL legacy includes failing to turn Martin Gerber, Alex Auld, Brian Elliott and Pascale Leclaire into competent NHL netminders. In other words, his NHL legacy is that he doesn't have magic powers.

Whether or not the change will work wonders for Payton Lee remains to be seen, but the Giants simply will not be able to be a competitive team so long as he's playing the way he is. It's a shame too, because he has a strong blueline in front of him as well as a team that controls 51.5% of all shots - an impressive number for a team sitting at the bottom of the standings. The ball is in Lee's court though as backup Jared Rathjen was injured in practice and is unable to play. He'll try to make some progress this week as the Giants are set to play five games in the next seven days, including a road back-to-back in Seattle and Kamloops over the weekend and a showdown with Mitch Holmberg and the 1st place Spokane Chiefs on Friday.

Around the B.C. Division

Kamloops Blazers: Traded disgruntled F Tim Bozon and D Landon Cross to Kootenay in exchange for F Collin Shirley, D Matt Thomas, a 3rd round pick in 2014, a 1st round pick in 2015 and a 5th round pick in 2015...With Vancouver's recent offensive outburst, are now the WHL's lowest-scoring team with 32 goals for through 13 games.

Kelowna Rockets: Went 2-1-0-0 to tie Victoria for the B.C. Division lead...G Jordon Cooke nominated for CHL goalie of the week after going 2-0-0-0 with a shutout and a .959 save percentage.

Prince George Cougars: Beat Calgary 4-3 in a shootout to hand the Hitmen their 2nd consecutive loss...F Chase Witala passed F Troy Bourke for the team scoring lead.

Victoria Royals: Dropped the first half of a weekend back-to-back against Kelowna by a score of 4-1. They play Kelowna again tonight, with the winner taking sole possession of the B.C. Division lead.

Other News and Notes:

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Rhys Jessop - CanucksArmy's resident CHL buff/hater of prospects, depending on who you ask. Follow my ramblings on Twitter: @Thats_Offside. Email contact: thats.offside.hockey@gmail.com
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#1 acg5151
October 26 2013, 07:17PM
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It's cool that you post this information but...

may I ask why it's called the Sea-To-Sky BONER report?

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#3 acg5151
October 27 2013, 01:26AM
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@That's Offside!

I like the current strategy of drafting Medicine Hat Tigers and London Knights more. No offense to .... Brett Kulak.

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#4 DrChill
October 27 2013, 04:08PM
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What is the chance that Shinkaruk is traded to a contending team this season? Can Canucks management ask the club to trade him? Is this done?

Thanks

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