In the lone WHL game of the day, the Portland Winterhawks visit the Vancouver Giants in ..."/> In the lone WHL game of the day, the Portland Winterhawks visit the Vancouver Giants in ..."/>

WHL Preview: Portland vs. Vancouver


In the lone WHL game of the day, the Portland Winterhawks visit the Vancouver Giants in a 2 p.m. PST matchup between the first- and last-place teams in the Western Conference, respectively.

PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (45-8-1-2, 93 pts/56 gp, 255 GF, 123 GA, 8-1-0-1 in past ten)

Portland is not only the top team in the Western Conference, but also the overall best team in the WHL. They’ve clinched a playoff spot, have the best win percentage and top goals-for in the league; the team’s 123 goals-against is second best in the league – only Edmonton has allowed fewer.

Seventeen-year-old Nicolas Petan leads the Winterhawks – and the WHL – with 98 points in 56 games, with fellow Winterhawk Brendan Leipsic just one point behind him. Petan leads the team and the WHL with 40 goals; both players have 58 assists, also best in the league. Rounding up the top three for Portland is right winger Ty Rattie, who has 81 points (31-50) in 47 games played.

Rookie left winger Adam De Champlain has 133 penalty minutes in 46 games, while fellow rookie Joe Mahon has 117 in 34 games with the Winterhawks this season.

Goaltending has been split, with Mac Carruth appearing in 31 games and Brendan Burke appearing in 23. Carruth has stopped 810 of 868 shots faced and has six shutouts this season; he’s 25-4-0-2, has a 1.91 GAA and a .933 save percentage. Burke, meanwhile, is 17-4-1-0, has four shutouts and a 2.55 GAA. He also has a .909 save percentage and has stopped 634 of 576 shots faced. Both goaltenders have allowed 58 goals against each.

The Winterhawks look to extend a two-game winning streak, coming off a pair of wins over the Kelowna Rockets. Portland defeated Kelowna on February 8 by a score of 5-3 before taking a 5-1 win the following night.

Following today’s game, the Winterhawks face a three-game homestand beginning on February 15; the trio of games will see them host Tri-City, Vancouver and Spokane before heading out on a four-game road trip.

VANCOUVER GIANTS (14-41-0-0, 28 pts/55 gp, 150 GF, 236 GA, 2-8-0-0 in past ten)

Vancouver rests at the bottom of the standings, sitting 14 points below Prince George. They’ve allowed the most goals-against in the league; despite that, they have more goals-for than five teams (Kootenay, Regina, Moose Jaw, Everett, Prince George).

Leading the way for Vancouver is right-winger Jackson Houck, who has 47 points in 55 games. Houck is tied with Brendan Rouse for the team lead in assists (30), while Cain Franson leads the Giants with 21 goals.

Defenseman Mason Geertsen leads the Giants with a total of 101 penalty minutes this season, including 32 from his time with Edmonton.

Four goaltenders have played for the Giants this season, with 16-year-old Payton Lee leading the way. Lee has played 1,441 minutes in 26 games this season for Vancouver. The rookie has a 3.50 GAA, .881 save percentage and has allowed 84 goals against on 706 shots faced.

Another rookie, Tyler Fuhr, has appeared in 15 games with the Giants this season, stopping 289 of 348 shots faced. He has a 4.74 GAA, a .830 save percentage and has been credited with four wins on the season. Liam Liston has also spent time in net for Vancouver (12 games, 4.53 GAA, .836 save percentage), as has Jared Rathjen (nine games, 4.75 GAA, .845 save percentage).

Vancouver recently broke a three-game losing streak, defeating Prince George 4-1 on February 9. Prior to that, their last win came on January 30 over Prince Albert.

The Giants will host Kamloops on February 13 before facing a four-game road trip, which will see them visit Seattle (twice), Portland and Tri-City before returning home on February 22.