The 2018-19 Vancouver Giants will go down as one of the best teams in franchise history. Not only did they finish first in the Western Conference, but they also made it all the way to the WHL Final and were an overtime goal away from heading to the Memorial Cup. With Prince Albert in town for the first time since that hard-fought seven-game WHL Finals, it offers a good opportunity to look back at where some of the stars from the Giants team are applying their trade today.
Coach Michael Dyck- Vancouver Giants
Coach Michael Dyck is still behind the bench in Vancouver, leading the next group of Giants. In conversation with the Giants’ head coach, he reflects on that team and how special that run was.
“That team was really unique,” said coach Dyck. “They came together, they grew together the entire year and really played hard for each other. I thought for the most part, it was a team that was built on physicality. We were really hard to play against. We had a good defence that could get the puck up the ice quickly and get up the ice quickly and we had a lot of depth up front.
“(Building a strong team) starts with a lot of trust. That was started from the beginning but really started to grow post-trade deadline. As we moved on past each series, they enjoyed each other that much more. Most of the time they talk about ’19, it’s the little things along the way. It was all about the process, not about winning this game or this series. It was all the times they had with each other in between that they remember the most.
” A lot of the memories, I go back to each series. We really figured out what it took to win. That Seattle series was a tough series and then the Spokane series with two overtime games in a row and us finding a way to win in game four and then game five at home, that was special. For the PA series, played a really good game in four but didn’t come out on top but the way the guys fought in game five and win a really tough game six to push it to seven, that was a resilient group.”
Bowen Byram- Colorado Avalanche
A rising star, defenceman Bowen Byram led all players during the 2019 playoffs with 26 points in 22 games. Undrafted at that point, he won the CHL Top Draft Prospect Award and was named to the WHL (West First All-Star Team). After the series, he would go on to be drafted fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche and win the Stanley Cup in 2022.
In the WHL Final, Byram showed why he was such a highly touted prospect putting up eight points in seven games. In game one, he had a four-assist night and, in game seven, recorded an assist on the Giants’ first goal of the game. He put on a performance for the ages throughout the playoffs which vaulted him into the best defenceman in franchise history debate.
Jared Dmytriw- University of Saskatchewan
Every team needs a leader and for the Giants, that was Jared Dmytriw. The captain led Vancouver in goals with nine and finished second in points with 21 in 22 games. He finished with eight points in the WHL Final highlighted by a three-point game in game one.
Since departing the WHL, Dmytriw has had a ton of success at the USports level with the University of Saskatchewan. In 2020, he won the USports (West) Most Outstanding Freshman (University of Alberta Hockey Alumni Trophy) and most recently took home a Universiade Gold Medal. The Craven, Saskatchewan native showed up when the Giants needed him most in 2019 and was a key reason behind their run to the WHL Final.
Jadon Joseph- University of Calgary
Jadon Joseph’s time with the Giants was short, but he made a massive impact on their run to the 2019 WHL Final. He only recorded three assists through the seven-game series but made an impact every night, whether that was through getting shots on goal or winning key faceoffs. Throughout the playoff run, he was the Giants’ best faceoff man winning 160 of his 282 draws which were also the fourth most wins across the entire WHL during the playoffs.
As mentioned, Joseph’s career with the Giants was short, as he was traded before the 2019-20 season to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Unfortunately, Vancouver couldn’t keep him as he was in his overage season, and the Giants did not have room for him on the roster. He can now be found applying his trade with the University of Calgary Dinos, which is located just a few hours away from his hometown of Sherwood Park, Alberta.
David Tendeck- Atlanta Gladiators
After splitting the season and the first part of the playoffs with Trent Miner, David Tendeck took over the starters’ net full-time during the Western Final against the Spokane Chiefs and helped guide Vancouver to game seven of the WHL final. He finished with 200 saves on 219 shots in the WHL Final and turned in spectacular performances making over 36 saves in each of games five, six and seven. After a tough first three-game in the series, which included not starting game three, he made a massive impact through the final four games stepping up when his team needed him most.
After playing one more season with the Giants, Tendeck went pro and has been part of the Arizona Coyotes organization ever since. This season, he has spent the majority of time in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators but did receive a call-up and start at the AHL in mid-January. One of the top goaltenders to ever play for the Giants, he ranks second in franchise history in all-time wins with 72 and is one of four goaltenders to record ten or more shutouts in their career with the organization.
A Playoff Run To Remember
The way the 2018-19 group came together is a testament to not only the players but the entire organization. Their 101 points were the most since the 2008-09 season, and their 45 regular season wins rank tied for fourth in franchise history. It was a special group, and one Giants fans will not forget for a long time.