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Giants goalie earns humanitarian award

Vancouver’s WHL team gives special thanks and recognition to several of its 2020-21 players

The clock is ticking, and time is running out to bid on a used hockey jersey for your very own.

It’s not as grungy as it sounds.

Once again the Vancouver Giants are wrapping up the season by auctioning of game-worn jerseys, and bidding ends tomorrow (Tuesday, May 25).

It’s a way to snag a little piece of history from the 2020-21 Vancouver Giants season, said play-by-play broadcaster and media director Dan O’Connor.

“Our online game-worn jersey auction is well underway and there are some great deals to be had,” he said.

To learn more or to place your bids on game-worn jerseys, click HERE.

In the meantime, the Giants have also had to improvise in how the Langley-based team has opted to celebrate the players’ accomplishments this season – since the annual award celebration is once again not possible, due to COVID.

After what was dubbed a “safe and successful” completion to the 2020-21 modified season – played only in a COVID-safe hub in Kamloops and Kelowna – the Vancouver Giants announced a number of player awards late last week.

In addition to their efforts off the ice, one of the young men on the team was acknowledged for all the work he does off the ice – and that was netminder Trent Miner. He took home the humanitarian of the year for a number of fundraising efforts.

And, a few other names appear repeatedly, including team captain Alex Kannok Leipert, forwards Justin Sourdif and Tristen Nielsen, defenceman Tanner Brown, and NHL draft prospect Zack Ostapchuk.

Unsung Hero Award: Tanner Brown

2002-born defenceman Tanner Brown enjoyed a breakout season for the Vancouver Giants. The Kelowna, B.C. product suited up in all 22 games for the Giants and posted two goals and eight assists for 10 points. He added a team-leading +11 rating and 18 penalty minutes. Originally selected by the G-Men in Round 2 of the 2017 WHL Bantam draft, Brown has established himself as a reliable, versatile defenceman who logged big minutes in all situations for the Giants.

Most Sportsmanlike Player: Eric Florchuk

2000-born forward Eric Florchuk’s final WHL season proved to be a successful one at both ends of the ice. The product of Fort Saskatchewan, AB finished third in team scoring with 20 points (4G, 16A) and did so while only accumulating eight penalty minutes. Florchuk’s eight power play assists were tops on the team, as were his 432 faceoff attempts.

Three Star Awards: Justin Sourdif, Tristen Nielsen, Trent Miner

• Justin Sourdif finished the 2020-21 season with 34 points (11G, 23A) which led the Giants, and also had him ranked tied for third in league scoring. In 22 games, Justin Sourdif recorded at least one point in 17 of them.

• Tristen Nielsen finished the 2020-21 season with 32 points (15G, 17A). His 15 goals were tops on the team and tops in the B.C. division. He also led the Giants with six power play goals and 12 power play points.

• Trent Miner finished the 2020-21 season with a 7-8 record with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. His four shutouts were tied for the most in the WHL. The 2001-born goaltender started the season with a shutout minutes streak of 234 minutes and 31 seconds – A new franchise record.

Save-On-Foods High School Scholastic Player of the Year: Zack Ostapchuk

Zack has shown commitment and resilience in his studies, even as the COVID pandemic has forced dramatic changes in learning. He is a dedicated student, striving for his personal best as he completes High School,” said Gatlin Saip, the Giants academic advisor.

Post-Secondary Academic Player of the Year: Trent Miner

“Trent has once again demonstrated academic excellence this year, and continues to set the tone for his teammates in his commitment to his studies” said Gatlin Saip, the Giants academic advisor.

Player’s Choice Award: Alex Kannok Leipert (22GP – 7G – 11A – 18PTS)

The two-year captain of the Vancouver Giants has left the Vancouver Giants organization in a better place than when he arrived. Through both his actions and his words, he has helped instill a culture and an expectation of success both on the ice and in the community. A trusted player and a revered teammate, Alex Kannok Leipert’s leadership, integrity and determination were just some of the many factors that resulted in him receiving the 2020-21 Players Choice Award.

Bublé Iron Man Award: Tristen Nielsen (22GP – 15G – 17A – 32PTS)

Consistency was the name of the game for 2000-born forward Tristen Nielsen. Nielsen appeared in all 22 games for the Giants in and registered 15 goals which were tops on the team and the entire B.C. division. He also led the Giants with 12 power play points, two shootout goals and 98 shots on goal. Through 22 games, he recorded 10 multi-point games and four games where he had three-or-more points.

Milan Ilich Rookie Of The Year Award: Marko Stacha (22 GP – 1G – 5A – 6PTS)

2002-born defenceman Marko Stacha put forth a strong first season in the Western Hockey League. The product of Ilava, SVK finished with one goal and five assists for six points, along with a +9 rating and 23 penalty minutes. After being selected by the Giants in Round 2 of the 2020 CHL import draft, he stepped right into the Giants lineup and played tough, reliable minutes. His +9 rating ranked second among all Giants defencemen.

Most Improved Player Award: Zack Ostapchuk (22GP – 7G – 9A – 16PTS)

2021 NHL draft prospect Zack Ostapchuk wrapped up a solid second season with seven goals and nine assists for 16 points. Of his seven goals, five were “first goals”, three were game-winners, and his 16 points were double his previous total from 2019-20, and he did so playing 22 fewer games. The 2003-born forward took the third most faceoffs on the team (143) and added one shorthanded goal.

Bruce Allen Inspirational Leadership Award: Alex Kannok Leipert (22GP – 7G – 11A – 18PTS)

During a unique, unprecedented hockey season, captain Alex Kannok Leipert led with both his actions and his words.

Not only did he set a new season high for goals (7), but he also finished atop the B.C. division in scoring among defencemen with 18 points. He added a +8 rating and 29 penalty minutes. The reigning two-year captain of the Vancouver Giants played all 219 career regular season games in a Vancouver Giants uniform.

P.C. Toigo Most Valuable Player Award: Justin Sourdif

Justin Sourdif’s positive impact for the Vancouver Giants was felt every single night during the 2020-21 WHL season. Offensively he recorded at least one point in 17 of the 22 games for the Giants, and recorded two-or-more points in 10 of those games. Defensively, Sourdif led all Giants forwards with a +10 rating. In three seasons now with the Giants, the Florida Panthers prospect has compiled 134 points (60G, 74A) in 147 games. The future remains incredibly bright for Sourdif, who figures to play an even larger role with the Giants in the seasons to come.

Gordie Howe Top Scorer Award: Justin Sourdif

2002-born forward Justin Sourdif officially served notice to the Western Hockey League, that he belongs in the conversation with all other elite offensive players. The Surrey native led the Giants and the B.C. division with 34 points (11G, 23A), which also ranked him tied for third in league scoring. Sourdif added nine power play points (2G, 7A) and two shorthanded goals to go along with four insurance goals.

Pat Quinn Defenceman Of the Year Award: Alex Kannok Leipert

This award marks the third individual award of 2020-21 for captain Alex Kannok Leipert. The pride of Regina, SK led all Giants defencemen with seven goals, 18 points and a +9 rating. He finished eighth among WHL defencemen in points, and third among WHL defencemen in goals. He finishes his WHL career with 219 career regular season games played, along with 21 goals, 62 assists and 240 penalty minutes.

White Spot Humanitarian of the Year: Trent Miner

A fierce competitor on the ice, and a remarkable citizen in the community, goaltender Trent Miner embodies all that it means to to truly “Be a Giant.” This season, Trent Miner served as the Vancouver Giants player ambassador for Hockey Gives Blood and thanks to Community Fire Prevention donating $5 for each of Trent Miner’s saves this season, a total of $1,605 was raised for Canadian Blood Services.

Sultan Thiara Plus/Minus Award: Tanner Brown (+11)

Thanks to a +4 rating in the Giants final game on May 11 against Victoria, 2002-born defenceman Tanner Brown earned the top plus-minus rating for the 2020-21 Vancouver Giants. Brown, a sophomore defenceman, was a +1 or better in 10 of the team’s 22 games, and only earned a minus rating three times.


About the Author: Langley Advance Times Staff

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