The earliest Giants could have players and staff who were away at world junior back is this weekend
The fighting Vancouver Giants are waiting to hear this morning whether they are missing key striker Zack Ostapchuk for a suspension tonight in Victoria.
Ostapchuk, who is an Ottawa Senators prospect, received a check for the major general at 2:33 p.m. in the third period for a hit on Victoria Royals defender Gannon Laroque in Vancouver’s 3-0 loss Wednesday in Victoria. All non-combat majors are reviewed by the WHL Office and are eligible for additional discipline.
The Royals (11-13-4-0), who got 50 saves from Tyler Palmer and a lacrosse goal from Bailey Peach on Wednesday, lead a 5-1-0-0 lead in the season series against Vancouver tonight (19:05 , Sportsnet 650) at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Center.
Vancouver (14-15-1-0) has lost eight of their last nine, which has coincided with the team starting to lose players and staff to the world junior commitments. Coach Michael Dyck, who was Assistant Team Canada, was the first to leave, followed by center Justin Sourdif (Canada), winger Fabian Lysell (Sweden) and goalkeeper Jesper Vikman (Sweden). Athlete coach Mike Burnstein was also part of the Canadian staff.
The league has handed out six suspensions after checking out the major leagues this season. It is in Ostapchuk’s favor that he has not been suspended for his three years in the league – and that Laroque remained in the game. Winger Julian Cull is the only Vancouver player to receive a suspension in the regular season. He was assessed two games for his control behind Major against Everett Silvertips on December 4th.
The world juniors were shut down on Wednesday due to concerns about COVID-19. Giants general manager Barclay Parneta said the earliest Vancouver could receive any of their world junior crews back would be a Sunday matinee (16.00) at home against the Kelowna Rockets.
It can be longer than that for a return for the entire quintet. The Giants, as well as other WHL clubs, have previously given players time off after world juniors. Parneta says the team will come up with a plan for it in the coming days.
Dyck last coached the Giants on December 4th. Sourdif’s most recent match with Vancouver was on December 8, and Vikman and Lysell left the team after a match on December 11.
The league also announced Monday that 36 players and teammates were put on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, including three members of the Giants. The league does not comment or identify affected individuals.
Vancouver missed strikers Adam Hall and Colton Langkow and defender Connor Horning for their two games since then.