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Vancouver Giants build to get back to Mem Cup

By Mark Janzen on July 27, 2013
Photo: The Memorial Cup trophy is emblematic of the Canadian Hockey League champion.


On the Vancouver Giants website, they have the blueprint for winning a WHL championship.

It’s titled: Surpassing Our Past.

If you want an interesting and delightfully-designed look at what it takes to put together a championship-winning side within the Canadian Hockey League, it’s worth a gander.

However, if you’re a Vancouver Giants fan, having just suffered through the second worst season in franchise history – just edging Vancouver’s inaugural campaign in 2001/02 – it’s a whole lot more. It’s a look at a successful past and, as the title states, an even brighter future. Frankly, it’s hope. In a pretty cool graphic.

As you’ll discover early on in the document – one that needs a little bit of an update following the WHL Bantam Draft, the CHL Import Draft and the hiring of assistant coach Matt Erhart – since entering the WHL in 2001, the Giants have won five B.C. Division titles, made the playoffs 10 times, won 67 playoff games, earned one WHL championship and captured one Memorial Cup.

It’s been an impressive run, but the next wave is about to hit. And excitement is in the air in Vancouver. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s fellow major junior teams across Western Canada, don’t expect the Giants swoon to the bottom of not only the WHL, but the entire CHL, to last long.

The goal is to host, but more importantly, win the Memorial Cup in 2016. And, if you look at the blueprint, that seems a reasonable goal.

As the blueprint depicts, by 2015/16, the Giants – a team that has been stockpiling draft picks over the past couple of years – could have as many as 18 first or second round Bantam draft picks on their roster. Just in time for what many assume will be a Memorial Cup tournament at Pacific Coliseum.

While the 2012/13 season will no doubt go down as a trying one, it might also be remembered as the foundation for success.

Thanks to its bottom-feeding season, Vancouver “earned” the right to select first in the WHL Bantam Draft. That meant the much-heralded Tyler Benson became a Giant.

The left winger, well known for his record-breaking campaign with the South Side Athletic Club Southgate Lions of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League in which he notched 146 points in 33 games, is already becoming a poster boy for the Giants. He’s just 15-years-old, so he’ll have to wait a year before joining Vancouver full-time, but once he does, expect sparks to fly.

Not long after the Giants picked Benson, Vancouver nabbed Burnaby Winter Club defenceman Matt Barberis using the 20th overall selection; a pick they acquired from Edmonton in the David Musil trade. This past season Barberis put up 48 points in 58 games with BWC and in a few short years will be a key piece in the Giants puzzle.

Following the WHL bantam draft, thanks to the Giants 2012-13 futility, the also garnered the top pick in the CHL Import Draft. With that, Vancouver grabbed Dmitri Osipov, a 6-3, 190-pound 16-year-old blueliner.

According to Province writer Steven Ewen, the hulking defenceman is expected to join the Giants this fall and, if indeed he does come to Vancouver, he will add to a core of developing players – including the likes of 1996-born players like goalie Payton Lee, forward Thomas Foster and defenceman Reid Zalitach – who are all gearing up for 2016.

The path to the Memorial Cup is clear for the Giants.

For Vancouver, it’s about a “return to greatness.”

And if the plan follows the well-conceived blueprint, the Giants resurgence has already begun.

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July 27, 2013
Categories:  Major Junior

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