Giants bounced by Blazers, then make a deal with B.C. rivals
Kamloops posts 4-2 victory, then takes Vancouver policeman Kale Kessy in exchange for Rob Trzonkowski
Dalton Sward of the Vancouver Giants swipes at a loose puck in front of Kamloops Blazers' netminder Taran Kozun during Wednesday's Western Hockey League action at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. The Blazers won 4-2.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
The cellar-dwelling Vancouver Giants have a week remaining to assess their team before the Western Hockey League trading deadline puts an end to player deals for the 2012-13 season.
An extreme long shot to make the playoffs, the Giants (10-28-0-0) figure to be sellers on Jan. 10. The question for management is: how many veterans do they move and how many do they keep so their younger players aren’t overwhelmed in the final two months of the season?
They moved one Wednesday night following a 4-2 loss to the visiting Kamloops Blazers as 20-year-old left-winger Kale Kessy was dealt to the Blazers for 18-year-old right-winger Rob Trzonkowski and a 2015 fifth-round bantam pick.
Kessy played 27 games for the Giants after being acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers in mid-October for a fifth-rounder. He collected seven goals and nine assists during his Vancouver stint but, more importantly, acted as a policeman. At 6-3 and 202 pounds, Kessy created room for himself and his teammates and brought an element of toughness. (He has been suspended seven times by the WHL, most recently for 12 games while still in Medicine Hat.)
“I’m not worried about toughness,” said Giants general manager Scott Bonner, whose brother Craig is GM of the Blazers. “We have enough toughness. Other guys will just have to play tough.”
Kessy, a fourth-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2011, is seeking a contract and Scott Bonner explained that was part of the Giants’ motivation in dealing him.
“You try to show some compassion,” Bonner said. “In Kessy’s case, he’s owned by an NHL team and trying to get a contract and the longer he plays this year, the more likely that is to happen. So if you want what’s best for kids, sometimes you make those moves.”
Kessy moved from worst to first in the B.C. Division and was effusive in his praise for the Giants and the opportunity given to him after his lengthy suspension.
“I’d like to thank the Vancouver organization, they’re nothing but first class,” he said. “They’ve been great to me. At the same time, I’m looking forward to going to Kamloops. They’ve got a really skilled team and I think they’re going to go really far in the playoffs. I want to go there and try to help them win a championship.”
Trzonkowski, listed at 6-2 and 198 pounds, has five points and 45 penalty minutes in 41 games. He is a native of Calgary and a good pal of Giants’ defenceman Blake Orban.
Meanwhile, on the ice Wednesday, the Giants were done in by their special teams as the Blazers scored twice on the power play and once short-handed.
Coach Don Hay’s skaters kept it close for 2½ periods before finally falling by the two-goal margin.
Orban and Trevor Cheek, with his fifth goal in four games, staked the G-Men to a 2-1 second-period lead but they could hold it, the killer goal coming with 51.7 seconds left in the second as Blazer captain Dylan Willick beat Tyler Fuhr short-handed.
Tim Bozon and Chase Souto then put the game away in the third with goals 1:29 apart.
Forward Jakob Stukel, the Giants’ second pick in last May’s bantam draft, made his WHL debut Wednesday. He’s a 15-year-old from Cloverdale and normally plays for the Valley West Hawks in the B.C. Major Midget League. Stukel was a minus-1.
The Giants left immediately following the game for Alberta where they will begin a five-games-in-six nights road trip Friday in Red Deer. Their next home game is Jan. 12 against the Kelowna Rockets.
G-NOTES: Giants’ rookie left-winger Taylor Vickerman served the first game Wednesday in a five-game suspension he received for a kneeing major Sunday on Prince George defenceman Joseph Carvalho ... The Blazers were without two players – winger JC Lipon (Canada) and defenceman Marek Hrbas (Czech) – who are at the world junior tournament in Ufa, Russia ... Dylan Willick returned to the Kamloops lineup after missing 21 games with a broken right ankle.
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