Hunter Shinkaruk Comes to Town, Loses Fight, Wins our Hearts

As you can tell, Hunter Shinkaruk probably bit off more than he could chew on Friday night.

The Vancouver Giants are making no secret of the fact that they’re not exactly poised to make a run this season. Heck, their slogan for the campaign is "Champions UNDER CONSTRUCTION" written inside of a big road hazard sign. They were a league worst 21-49-2 last season, and they’re 9-11-1 this year. As a result, fans of the team – and even casual fans that may have otherwise being going because after all, it’s still hockey – haven’t exactly been going out to the games in droves.

But on Friday night the Pacific Coliseum saw its 2nd biggest crowd of the year, and with good reason, as Vancouver Canucks 24th overall pick Hunter Shinkaruk came to town with his Medicine Hat Tigers squad. I was there, and while there wasn’t much to speak of in the way of worthwhile happenings for the first 2+ periods, the 3rd more than made up for it. After the game I got the chance to speak to Shinkaruk himself, so I’ve gone ahead and transcribed the interview just past the jump. 

Before we get to the interview itself, let me give a little synopsis of the game just so that some of the quotes below make more sense. The Giants jumped on the Tigers early, taking a 3-0 lead after 1. Shinkaruk himself wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but it happens. That didn’t stop us from having some fun at his expense with the #RUSSIANKURAK hashtag on Twitter. It was still 3-1 Giants after 40 minutes, with very little that I’d consider redeeming in terms of action taking place.

The 3rd period was fun, though. Medicine Hat cut the lead to 3-2 with just under 4 minutes left. Shinkaruk really got going, showing the high-end skill that was saw flashes of in the preseason here in Vancouver, and nearly tied it on his own. They had a few quality chances late but couldn’t get it done with the extra attacker, falling 3-2. After the final whistle there was a huge scrum in front of the Giants net, and that’s when this happened:

Here’s the chat we had post-game: 

What’d you think of tonight?

It was a tough game. Our team didn’t come out as well as we would’ve liked. But I thought it was a good sign that we stuck with it, we battled right to the end. Obviously in a loss you look for the positives and that was one that I could find.

What was it like playing here? Was it different than the other times you’ve been here?

Yeah, it was a little different. There was a little more excitement. I could tell the fans were a little more excited, and that’s fine, that’s what I dreamed about and I thought for the most part I played pretty well tonight.

Was it different with Smyl here?

[Laughs]. Yeah, I guess. But you know last year was probably the toughest. 10-15 scouts at most of our games. That was pretty tough, so I guess this is pretty easy now that I know that they actually like me. [Laughs] 

What’d you think happened at the end?

Oh. Um, it was just a scrum. One of my buddies was getting hit, so I jumped in, and the next thing I know I have about 9 hits right to the back of my head, and I’m like.. I don’t want to drop my gloves.. but I did.

Did you know who it was?

Yeah, oh yeah, it was Thrower. Now I know I just have about 9 goose eggs on the back of my head. 

Does it still hurt?

Yeah.. a little bit. That’ll be my last fight. *sheepish grin*

After the 2nd goal there you celebrated like it was game 7 overtime or something..

Yeah, it was a tight game. And I get really excited when my team scores goals. I remember even when I was in Vancouver I did that. That’s just how I do things. There’s nothing that I love more than my team scoring or me scoring, and it was a good buddy of mine, so.. 

I remember in the preseason you sort of flew down the wing and took a shot from near the goal line that went in, and you took a similar shot tonight..

Aha, yeah I kind of realized just when I shot it ‘oh god, did I just do the same thing as I did in preaseason’, but I didn’t score so.. it probably wasn’t as cool. But I wish I did.

We also had a chance to speak to Dalton Thrower – a 2012 2nd rounder of the Montreal Canadiens, who is a 20-year old MAN with a wicked moustache going – about his take on the scrum after the game:

"It was lots of fun.. you always like that kind of stuff. They had 6 guys on the ice, so I just went after the 3rd man in."

I get the feeling that Shinkaruk should try and make sure he tussles with someone closer to his own size next time..

I also wanted to point out that the Medicine Hat Tigers are in town again on January 22nd, so if you missed a chance to go to this game, I highly recommend marking that date down on your calendar.