After a change between the pipes midweek, the Vancouver Giants are coming closer, but are still looking for a win to snap an eight-game winless streak.
The Western Hockey League (WHL) team acquired 20-year-old goalie Daniel Wapple from the Regina Pats Wednesday (Nov. 4) in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
The Saskatoon native won five of nine decisions with the Pats this season, posting a 3.20 goals against average with a .907 save percentage.
“We’re excited to welcome Daniel to our hockey club,” said Giants Head Coach Lorne Molleken. “He’s an accomplished goaltender at our level that has been a big part of Regina’s success over the last couple of years. He’s also a goalie that I believe gives you a chance to win each and every night.”
As a result of adding Wapple to the roster, the Giants waived 20-year-old forward Taylor Crunk to get back down to the limit of three overage (20-year-old) players, and traded netminder Payton Lee to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a sixth-round pick in the 2016 Bantam Draft.
Lee started 11 games third season, winning three times. He had a goal against average of 3.36 and a save percentage of .896.
After the roster moves, the Giants surrendered just five goals in two games last weekend, but came up a goal short each time. Vancouver lost 2-1 to the Kamloops Blazers Friday night before 7,314 fans at the Pacific Coliseum, then fell 3-2 to the Everett Silvertips Saturday night in Washingotn State.
With Wapple in goal against the Blazers, the Giants held the visitors scoreless until 34 minutes into the game, when Kamloops tallied for a 1-0 lead they carried into the third period.
Radovan Bondra netted his fifth goal of the year for the Giants just 13 seconds into the final frame. The Blazers reigned the lead with eight minutes remaining, and despite a 9-2 advantage in shots on goal, the Giants couldn’t pull even.
Vancouver outshot Kamloops 32-21, and went scoreless on seven powerplay opportunities. The Giants killed off their only shorthanded situtation.
One night later in Everett, the Giants again outshot the opposition only to come up short. Vancouver had a 33-28 edge in shots, but never held a lead.
All five goals in the game were scored in the second period. Everett started with a powerplay goal in the first minute. Ben Thomas of the Giants tied the game four minutes later, but the Silvertips were back in front 2-1 by the seven-minute mark of the period and stretched their lead to 3-1 a minute later.
Thomas notched his second of the game with eight minutes left in the period, but Wapple in the Giants goal and Carter Hart in net for Everett were perfect the rest of the way.
At 4-10-2-1 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss), Vancouver is in the B.C. Division basement, five points back of Kamloops and three behind the Portland Winterhawks for a wild-card playoff position.
The Giants will be in the Okanagan today (Wednesday) for an afternoon game with the Kelowna Rockets, then will host the Blazers again Friday. On Saturday evening, the Winterhawks are the visitors on White Spot Legends night, when Guy Lafleur and Dennis Hull will appear at the Pacific Coliseum.
As part of a partnership between the Giants and the Scotiabank Hockey for Alzheimer’s tournament, the two former National Hockey League legends will meet with 100 fans at the game against Portland.
Lafleur played 17 seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques, winning five Stanley Cups. He is the all-time leading scorer with the Canadiens and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hull played 14 seasons in the NHL, all but one with the Chicago Blackhawks, and was a five-time All-Star.