The Sea-to-Sky Boner Report: GIANT WEEKEND Edition

That's Offside!
November 18 2013 11:12AM

 

This past Friday and Saturday at the Pacific Coliseum, Giants and Canucks fans alike caught a glimpse of the future of Vancouver hockey, as both Canucks top prospect Hunter Shinkaruk and Giants top prospect Tyler Benson both paid a visit for the first time this year. The Giants won both games, upsetting the Eastern Conference leading Tigers 3-2 before a strong showing against the Tri-City Americans in a 5-2 win on Saturday night. 

Read on past the jump for a look back at the week that was for the Giants.

We'll start on Friday night, when Hunter Shunkaruk's Medicine Hat Tigers came to town. Shinkaruk was pretty invisible in the first two periods, but I suspect that this was largely because of the hip injury that he's still dealing with. He crashed heavily into the boards behind the Giants net in the 1st and appeared to limp off the ice. He skated rather gingerly for the next 40 or so minutes, trying to loosen his hip between whistles. After the game, he admitted that his hip is still "pretty painful" and probably won't be 100% for this entire season.

Still, when he came to life in the 3rd period, he put on a show. His electric skill was on full display as he beat defenders 1-on-1 and played a major role in both Tigers goals. Just before Miles Koules' 3-2 goal, Shinkaruk burst down the left wing, then cut hard to the centre of the ice, dragging the puck between the legs of the defender and setting up a scoring chance. He celebrated "like it was an OT winner in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final" when Koules finally jammed in a wrap-around seconds later. Shinkaruk also started the passing play that eventually led to Tommy Vannelli's powerplay goal that opened the scoring for the Tigers.

Dimitri had the good fortune to interview Shinkaruk after the game, so go here for his take on the game. Also, here are the highlights of the game, featuring a couple of nifty moves by Shinkaruk off the rush to set up some scoring chances. The Medicine Hat Tigers return to the Pacific Coliseum on January 22nd for a rematch and another chance for Shinkaruk to put on a show for his soon-to-be home crowd.

Saturday night saw 15 year old Tyler Benson suit up for his first career WHL game, and as expected, it was largely uneventful. Benson saw a regular shift on a scoring line with Carter Popoff and Jackson Houck, but was held off the powerplay with the exception of a couple of shifts when the Giants had a two-goal lead. Benson played a very simple game, making quick and accurate passes, forechecking well, and showing good awareness on both sides of the puck.

As I've written before, Benson isn't a flashy player. In contrast with the 1-on-1 prowess that Hunter Shinkaruk demonstrated a day earlier, Benson shows excellent awareness and passing ability, and he uses his skill to set up teammates and distribute the puck rather than rush the puck up the ice and generate chances all by himself. He didn't really do much in his first WHL game, but he's still an extremely talented player that didn't look out of place - which is remarkable in itself for a 15 year old.

Game highlights can be seen here. Benson is eligible to play 4 more games for Vancouver this year before they have to return him to Kelowna's Program of Excellence to finish his season. The Giants play three games this upcoming week, including a rematch with Tri-City and a visit to Spokane to face the CHL's leading scorer Mitch Holmberg.

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Covering the WHL - with a focus on the Vancouver Giants - for the Nations. Helping feed your sea-to-sky boners. Follow my inane ramblings on Twitter @Thats_Offside.
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