Vancouver anything but giant on the power play

Sixteen-year-old Payton Lee collected his first win of the season in a 4-1 win over the Victoria Royals on October 26. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

After 12 games, the Vancouver Giants are off to what you might call a rough start. At 3-9, the team sits in the cellar of the Western Hockey League standings, and has the league’s second-worst goals for total. Goaltending has troubled the G-men, certainly, with third-year player Liam Liston already doing his best Dan Cloutier impression to earn a spot on the bench behind a couple of 16-year-olds. But it’s another set of stats that is probably to blame for Vancouver’s slow start: special teams.

Continue reading Vancouver anything but giant on the power play

Giants snap the streak

Third-year forward Marek Tvrdon finally scored his first goal of the season the other night. With that monkey off his back, he relaxed his way to a four-point night, including a hat trick, to lead the Giants to a 4-1 win over the visiting Victoria Royals. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Coming into Friday night’s hockey game, a lot of people were talking about #17 on the Victoria Royals roster. And deservedly so. With 18 points in 14 games, Alex Gogolev is one of the top scorers in the WHL. His fluid skating style and flashy puckhandling make him a threat every time he steps on the ice.

But it was the Vancouver Giants #17 who stole the show this night. Marek Tvrdon quadrupled his goal total for the season, notching a hat trick and adding an assist to help the Giants to just their third win of the season.

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Fans have lockout options galore, part 1

I said it in our last podcast: to all of those people crying “There is no hockey”, I call you on your bullshit. Our Victoria puckhead Adrian Charlie is putting together a little rundown of some options y’all have to quench your thirst for icy fast goodness. First up, the  American Hockey League.

“The dirty little secret of Canada… Canada isn’t a hockey country, it’s an NHL country.”

Chris Withers (Jason’s note: “That Withers bastard always steals my stuff.”)

The Abbotsford Heat and Peoria Rivermen are just two AHL teams that offer top-tier puck for a fraction of the cost of NHL games. In any given year, this league features solid, fast, entertaining hockey. This year it also features loads of the NHL’s younger players, such as the Oilers Kid LIne. This image (taken by Amy Williams) was stolen gratuitously from the Rivermen website:

by Adrian Charlie

Far too many fans have uttered, “I miss hockey.” I ask why? There are loads of worthy, quality hockey games. Everywhere. These posts are inspired by my own need to seek high quality hockey with a focus on Vancouver/Victoria. Of course, you’re not so limited. There are several well-represented hockey leagues underway across Canada and the USA — but even if you’re not in one of these cities, you’ve got minor hockey, college hockey, women’s hockey, hell even roller hockey someplace nearby. Most of them are either free or embarrassingly close to it.

And let’s not stop there. How about finding a community rink, strapping on some blades and going for a skate your bad self? Don’t let Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr steal your game from you.

Continue reading Fans have lockout options galore, part 1

Episode 47 — Of Tears and Children and Lockouts

Vancouver Giants captain Wes Vannieuwenhuizen
Captain Wes Vannieuwenhuizen and the Vancouver Giants offer just one alternative to the No Hockey League. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

With loads of people complaining about “NO HOCKEY”, Chris and I decided to talk about the options that abound for puck-crazed fans to scratch the itch left by Gary Bettman and his immovable shitshow. Along the way we tackle the disaster that replacement players would present, and Chris makes several points that I have no answer for. History in the making!

Give us a listen, won’tcha?

• Opening theme by the Orchid Highway
• Is second honeymoon like second breakfast?
• Are replacement players on the NHL horizon?
• Calling out supposed “hockey fans”
• Closing theme by the Orchid Highway
• Thanks for listening


Giants tame Tigers

Yeah, yeah, I know: my headline is weak. Fine. YOU write the next one.

by Jason Kurylo

When you watch the Vancouver Giants from afar — or any other junior hockey team, for that matter — it’s hard to remember that a lot of these players are still teenagers. They play a fast game, they skate relentlessly, and more often than not, WHL teams pound the bejesus out of each other out there. It’s only when you sit close to the glass and see the peach fuzz and acne up close that it hits home.

Third-year forward Marek Tvrdon (#17, right) is still looking for his first goal of the campaign, but don’t let the baby face fool you. This 19-year-old is 6’2″ and 217 pounds, and skates faster than an appropriate metaphor for quickness. He was good for 74 points in 60 games last year, and this night he collected two assists as his Giants shellacked the Medicine Hat Tigers 6-1. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head (yeah, I know it’s not perfect, but Tvrdon’s in focus — do you have any idea how hard it is to shoot action photos of hockey?).

Continue reading Giants tame Tigers

A Royal drama in three acts

Alex Gogolev scored the dramatic game-tying goal to send the Victoria Royals on to a 4-3 overtime win over Marek Langhamer and the Medicine Hat Tigers. Photo courtesy of Jon Howe – Victoria Royals

Our Victoria correspondent Adrian Charlie took time away from his film review schedule to hit his second Royals game of the young season. He was treated to a Royal drama in three acts: a dismal start, a furious parry from the homeside, and the excitement of overtime to top it all off. 

by Adrian Charlie

Medicine Hat Tigers vs Victoria Royals

October 3, 2012

This is the only time the Tigers visit Victoria during the regular season. Both clubs entered the game with identical records (3-1-0), the Tigers on a three-game winning streak, the Royals looking to bounce back after their first loss. The Tigers have the WHL Player of the Week on their side: Calgarian prospect Hunter Shinkaruk had two goals and five assists in his first four games of the season.

The Tigers came flying out of the gate early, Trevor Cox netting the first goal on the game’s first shot. Through much of the first period the visitors displayed a stingy forecheck, controlling the neutral zone with ease. Cox added a PPG to put the Tigers up 2-0 going into the second period. At this point the Royals were scoreless in four consecutive periods.

Early in the second, the Royals applied pressure, setting up deep in the offensive zone. Marek Langhamer (Phoenix Coyotes draftee) demonstrated great vision, making saves through heavy traffic.

At the 13:44 mark, Elgin Pearce fed a streaking Shinkaruk who placed a gorgeous snap shot high blocker side on Polivka, extending the Tigers lead 3-0. Two minutes later Jamie Crooks put the Royals on the scoreboard with a hard-working effort, tapping the puck in after a blocked pass by a sprawling Tiger defender. At the 19:34 mark the Royals went on a late power play. The Royals won the faceoff, set up traffic and Magee scored a PPG, deflecting a Stahl slapshot from the blue line. With momentum on their side the Royals entered the third period down 3-2.

Halfway through the third, Crooks attempted to dangle past Spenser Jensen. Jensen drove Crooks hard into the boards, knocking Crooks’ visor off. Crooks looked gassed as he skated to the bench, but he stayed in the game.

With six minutes left Langhamer put on a goaltending clinic under siege. In quick succession the Royals forwards forced the Medicine Hat goalie to make four impressive pad saves.

With two minutes left in the game, Royals coach Lowry pulled Polivka. Gogolev tied the game after a silky cross-crease pass from Ben Walker. A roaring crowd of 4,055 stood on their feet as the buzzer sounded, the game tied 3-3 after regulation.

Logan Nelson carried the puck from the right wing with speed, his wraparound foiled by a Tigers defender. The puck was loose in front of the net, Royals defender Brett Cote pinched up and scored the GWG, his second goal of the season. Once again the crowd stood on their feet. The Royals scored 4 unanswered goals. There’s nothing like a come from behind win!

Post-Game Notes:

“Hardest Working Player of the Game” – Austin Carroll (VIC)

Three Stars:

3. Alex Gogolev (VIC)

2. Brandan Magee (VIC)

1. Trevor Cox (MH)


Whitecaps FC 4, Chivas USA 0

It was a must-win for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Wednesday night, as they sat just two points ahead of FC Dallas for the fifth and final playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference. Luckily, they were hosting a woeful Chivas USA squad that was burdened with a franchise-worst losing skid into BC Place. The Caps didn’t disappoint, dominating play from kick-off to the final whistle, and putting four goals — FOUR!! —into the back of the net.

Video embed courtesy of — if it ain’t workin’ don’t blame lil’ ol’ us!

Continue reading Whitecaps FC 4, Chivas USA 0

The Vancouver Whitecaps Are Old

Okay, Captain Jay Demerit isn’t Methusela, exactly, but he is feeling the effects of age, judging by a recent tweet. The team, in turn, is feeling the effects of his age, judging by stats compiled by our very own Chris Withers.

The Whitecaps are bone-creakingly old. At the start of the year, they were the oldest team in the MLS at 29.71 years. Then they traded Eric Hassli, Davide Chiumiento left and Barry Robson and Kenny Miller, both years older than their predecessors, were brought in. Age can be a good thing. One need only watch the masterclass that YP Lee usually puts on at right back to see the benefit of experience. But Captain Jay Demerit showed the downside of age in a tweet yesterday: “With every game I play, my body reminds me of how old I actually am. Good thing mind keeps telling me im 23. #sore #keepgoingJay #gocaps.” Continue reading The Vancouver Whitecaps Are Old