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Giants Clinch Playoff Spot After Just 46 Games

January 24, 2009 - Western Hockey League (WHL) Vancouver Giants

VANCOUVER BC - The Vancouver Giants continue their record breaking season, adding another feather to what will end up being a well feathered cap by the time the WHL season wraps up. The Giants brush the Kamloops Blazers aside by the final score of 5-1 on Friday night at the Pacific Coliseum. In the process, the Vancouver Giants clinch a playoff spot after just 46 games, a new WHL record eclipsing the record held by the 2006-07 Everett Silvertips, who clinched a playoff berth in just 48 games that season.

This feisty, fight filled contest began with the Giants jumping on the Blazers early, pouncing for three goals in the opening twenty minutes. James Wright, Evander Kane and Alex Rodgers found the net in the first period. Wright scoring his first goal in 10 games to open the scoring just five minutes into the game, while Kane and Rodgers added their tallies just 36 seconds apart to separate themselves from Kamloops late in the period. Blazers goalie Jon Groenheyde kept his team in the game, making numerous high quality saves throughout the game, and facing 17 shots in the first period alone.

The Giants would treat the 13127 fans in attendance to a great second period that saw them expand their lead to five after two periods of play. James Henry used Linden Saip as a turnstile, blowing past the former Giants d-man and out-waiting Groenheyde to slide in his 10th goal of the season at 10:57 of period two. Under a minute later, Casey Pierro-Zabotel would be allowed to sneak in from the right faceoff circle and snap a shot, high glove side to make the score 5-0 at 11:43, just 46 seconds after the Henry marker. The Giants would pepper Groenheyde with 19 shots in period two to outshoot the Blazers 36-10 after forty minutes.

CJ Stretch would get the Blazers on the board in the opening minute of the third, finishing off a Shayne Wiebe rush to collect his 23rd goal of the season. The Blazers and Giants would then engage in the fisticuffs, with three separate tilts over the final 15 minutes of the game as both teams showed hints of a great rivalry being re-ignited.

Tyson Sexsmith would collect the win for the Giants, stopping 16 of 17 shots to pick up his 27th win of the season. The Giants move their record to 39-4-0-3, and extend their lead in the BC Division to 27 points over the Kelowna Rockets. The Giants, having clinched a playoff spot, can now set their sights on the BC Division. With 26 games left, the Giants magic number to clinch the Division would be 11 ½ . Any combination of Vancouver wins and Kelowna losses totalling 11.5 will clinch the Giants their fourth consecutive BC Division title.

The Giants will wrap up their 'Giant Weekend' on Saturday night as they face the always tough Everett Silvertips on Coast Spas Hot Tub Night at the Pacific Coliseum. Simply purchase a SUBWAY chuck-a-puck before the game. The Giants will wheel a COAST SPAS HOT TUB out to centre ice and fans who purchased pucks can throw them at the hot tub. If your puck lands in the hot tub and we pull your puck out of the tub, you will win a COAST SPAS HOT TUB!!! Second place will receive $250 in Subway coupons to use at your local SUBWAY outlet. All proceeds from the sale of the pucks will be contributed to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation You can catch all the action on AM 650. Brook Ward and Dave Sheldon will have WHITE SPOT GIANTS HOCKEY, with the SAVE ON FOODS pre game show at 630 pm. Dave and Brook will have all of the action between Everett and Vancouver at 7 pm from the Rink on Renfrew. The Giants are once again closing in on a crowd of 10000. If that number is reached, the Giants will have had back to back 10000+ crowds for the first time in franchise history.

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Western Hockey League Stories from January 24, 2009


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