Giants Name Leadership Group, Led by Captain Sam Honzek

November 30, 2023 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Vancouver Giants News Release

Vancouver, B.C. - The Vancouver Giants announced today, November 30, that Sam Honzek (Trencin, SVK) has been named the 21st captain in franchise history. He is the first European player to wear the 'C' for the Giants.

"During his time as a Vancouver Giant, Sam has been a difference maker on the ice and has paired that ability with incredible off-ice habits," said Giants General Manager Barclay Parneta. "We know his strong work ethic and commitment to the game will set the tone and make an impression this season on our young group."

Alongside Sam, leading the Giants this season will be Jaden Lipinski (Scottsdale, AZ), Ty Halaburda (Victoria, B.C.), Mazden Leslie (Lloydminster, AB) and Logen Hammett (Regina, SK).

"A great day for the young man and for our group," Giants Head Coach Manny Viveiros said. "This is something we've been waiting to announce for a while now, until Sam got back into our lineup. This is well deserving and is quite an honour for him."

Lipinski took on a big leadership role in Honzek's absence to start the season and will temporarily wear the 'C' if Honzek is named to Slovakia's World Junior team next month.

"In [Sam's] absence, the other guys have been outstanding," Viveiros said. "It's not just one man who is the captain, it's a whole leadership group and we have a bunch of kids who have taken a step this year."

Honzek, 19, was one of a few players to wear an 'A' last season, his first in North America. The 6-foot-4, 195 lb. forward finished second on the Giants in scoring with 56 points (23G-33A), despite playing in only 43 regular season games. He was injured in an NHL preseason game with the Calgary Flames and has not played for the Giants yet this season, but is expected to debut on Friday, Dec. 1 against Kelowna.

"This means a lot to me. I'm really happy and ready to help the team," Honzek said. "I would say I lead by example. How I work out off the ice and how I practice on the ice - that's how I'm a leader and I'm going to try to help lead this team to the playoffs."

Originally selected by the Giants 10th overall in the 2022 CHL Import Draft, Honzek was the B.C. Division's Rookie of the Year nominee for the 2022-23 season, making him a finalist for the WHL's Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy. His 23 goals tied for the second-most among all WHL rookies and his 56 points ranked third among first-year players, while his plus-17 rating led the Giants and ranked fifth among WHL rookies.

Honzek was selected by the Calgary Flames with the 16th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and a few weeks later signed his entry-level contract.

Lipinski, 18, also wore an 'A' for the Giants at times during the 2022-23 season, his second with the club. This season, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound centre leads the team in scoring with 17 points (7G-10A). Last year, he finished third on the Giants in scoring with 51 points (19G-32A) in 66 games, a 34-point improvement from his rookie season. Lipinski was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, 112th overall.

Halaburda, 18, is also playing in his third WHL season with Vancouver, and currently is tied for second in team scoring with 15 points (6G-9A). Last season, the 5-foot-11, 177-pound winger finished third on the Giants in goals with 21, and sixth in points with 37.

Leslie, 18, has played more games than anyone else on the Giants (171) and is coming off a 50-point season. This year he has recorded 14 points in 24 games (2G-12A).

Hammett, 20, ranks second on Vancouver in career games played (168). The steady defenceman has four points so far this season (2G-2A) and 41 in his career (6G-35A).

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