Giants seek first Memorial Cup

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Vancouver Giants are vying to become the fifth British Columbia team to win the MasterCard Memorial Cup.

If the hosts can do the deed, Vancouver would join the New Westminster Bruins (1977 and 1978), Kamloops Blazers (1992, 1994 and 1995), Kootenay Ice (2002) and Kelowna Rockets (2004) on the trophy first awarded in 1919.

They'll need to exact revenge on the freshly crowned WHL champion Medicine Hat Tigers, who grabbed the league trophy from 2006 champion Vancouver in double overtime Monday night in Alberta. Before Vancouver can think of that, it has tonight's tournament opener against the Ontario Hockey League champion Plymouth Whalers at 6 p.m. and Sunday's 1:30 p.m. meeting with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League winner Lewiston MAINEiacs.

The Giants are the only team among this year's final four that played in the 2006 tournament in Moncton, N.B. where they were 1-2 in round robin, but qualified for the semifinal after a 6-0 win over OHL's Peterborough Petes. The Giants, however, were knocked out 3-1 by host Moncton Wildcats who, in turn, lost to the Quebec Remparts in the final.

Last year Vancouver rode the shoulders of Gilbert Brule's scoring touch and Dustin Slade's goaltending. Brule is now a pro with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Slade left the team in November and ended up with the Halifax Junior A Wolverines.

Tyson Sexsmith has ably filled Slade's former crease while scoring has been divvied up among various Giants. Acquisitions Wacey Rabbit and Kenndal McArdle have carried much of the playoff load. The Giants will need to bring more self-discipline when they meet Tigers on Wednesday in the final game of round-robin play. It's also hoped that they'll bring back blue liner Cody Franson, who missed the last three games of the WHL final with an upper body injury. Without Franson, the Giants used a taxed squad of five defencemen.


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