The Vancouver Giants 2022-23 season has come to a close after being swept by the Kamloops Blazers in the first round of the WHL playoffs. The Giants are a young team made up of mostly 17 and 18-year-olds, so the hope is this group can take what they have learned this season and translate it into success over the next few years. Here is a look at the season that was for the 2022-23 Giants.
Vancouver Giants By The Numbers
The Giants finished the 2022-23 season with 28 wins and 64 points which was good enough to clinch the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Compared to last season, they saw an increase of four wins and 11 points despite last year’s team being more experienced and deeper. This year’s version of the team also scored more goals and allowed fewer goals against than the 2021-22 version.
One of the biggest improvements this year came on the penalty kill. This season, the Giants finished ninth in the league with a 79.3% kill rate. Last season, they finished 18th at 76%. The main reasons for this improvement were the teams’ commitment to playing better defensively, plus improved goaltending from a year ago. With Jesper Vikman now aged out and Brett Mirwald’s future unknown as he enters his 20-year-old season, the Giants will need to continue their commitment to defence if they want to once again improve heading into the 2023-24 season.
As for the offence, this is an area where the team needs to improve next season. They finished 21st in the league with 188 goals and will be losing leading scorer and captain Ty Thorpe as he ages out. The veteran of 263 WHL games had 37 goals and 71 points this season and was the only Giants player to cross the 25-goal mark this season. His presence and leadership will be missed as he was one of, if not the hardest working player on the ice most nights.
Goaltending Saved The Giants This Season
The tandem of Vikman and Mirwald was fantastic for the Giants all season long and were the reason they had such a successful season. The duo faced over 2,500 shots this season, with both goaltenders posting a save percentage of .903 or better. Vikman, in particular, played so well he was named to the B.C. Division’s first all-star team. Both goaltenders gave Vancouver a chance to win every night as they helped this young team grow and develop over the season.
The question now turns to what the Giants will do next season in goal. Vikman has aged out, and as mentioned, Mirwald will be a 20-year-old. Vancouver does have a pair of strong goaltending prospects in Matthew Hutchison and Burke Hood but will most likely want an older, established netminder on the roster to help the younger guys. Watch for the team to make a trade or use an import draft selection to fill this role.
Giants’ Defence Will Look Very Different Next Season
The Giants’ defensive group had its ups and downs this season but, overall, played well. Dylan Anderson provided some stability, while Mazden Leslie rounded out his game as the season progressed. Vancouver also got solid performances from Damian Palmeri and Brenden Pentecost, who held their own when given roles in the team’s top six.
Going into next season, however, this defensive core is going to look very different. Colton Roberts will be expected to step up and become a top-pairing defenceman, and the team will have to replace possibly three players (Anderson, Pentecost and Carson Haynes) depending on how they want to construct their 20-year-old group, plus if Pentecost and Haynes want to make the jump to U-Sports next season. Expect Will Subject and Colton Alain to be given bigger roles next season and Vancouver to look to the import draft, free agency or the trade market to boost their defensive group.
Draft Eligible Forward Take Center Stage
This season, the draft-eligible forwards took center stage as they impressed the scouts all year. Samuel Honzek received the B.C. Division nominee for Rookie of the Year, Jaden Lipinski played in the Top Prospects Game; Ty Halaburda scored 20+ goals, while Ethan Semeniuk scored double digits. Add in contributions from Tyler Thorpe, Kyren Gronick and Skyler Bruce, and this forward group looks like they could do some damage if everyone stays healthy next season.
The big question surrounding this group is if Honzek will be back or not. He could go back to Europe or even make an NHL roster out of training camp. The Giants will be hoping he will return to the lineup next year, as he could be one of the most dangerous players in the WHL during the 2023-24 campaign.
A Fun Season Comes To An End
The 2022-23 Vancouver Giants season had plenty of exciting moments that fans will hopefully remember for a long time. Whether it was Anderson’s Teddy Bear Goal, beating Kelowna in the dying seconds of the final regular season home game, Leslie scoring a hat trick or multiple players playing their first career games, this Giants team left it all on the line and were resilient to the end. We hope you enjoyed this year’s coverage of the Vancouver Giants and hope you will join us next season for more exciting WHL hockey.