A handful of Surrey-area players are just four wins away from a Western Hockey League title with the Vancouver Giants.
The Langley-based Giants begin their best-of-seven WHL championship series today (Friday) against the regular-season champion Prince Albert Raiders.
And if the Giants – who won the league’s Western Conference title last week over the Spokane Chiefs – are to have success against the Raiders, it’s likely that some Surrey/White Rock players will have had something to do with it.
White Rock’s Davis Koch – who was named the WHL’s player of the month for March – is currently second in the WHL’s playoff-scoring race with two goals and 15 assists in 15 postseason games. He led the Giants in scoring during the regular season, with 28 goals and 50 assists.
Koch’s teammate, Justin Sourdif, has also played a key role in the team’s playoff run.
The Surrey native – and former star with the Valley West Hawks major-midget program – has played 10 playoff games and tallied two goals and four assists. He missed five games earlier in the playoffs due to injury.
Sourdif is in his rookie season in the WHL, and his 23-goal regular season performance put him in elite company, as one of just three rookies in team history to score more than 20 goals in a season. The other two were future NHLers Evander Kane and Gilbert Brule.
On the other side of the WHL championship series, the Saskatchewan-based Raiders boast a little Lower Mainland flavour, too. Delta native Dante Hannoun is fourth in team scoring with Prince Albert during the playoffs, with nine goals and six assists in 16 games, while the squad’s backup goalie, Boston Bilous, is from Langley.
Bilous has not seen any action in the playoffs, as starter Ian Scott – a draft pick of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs – has played each of the team’s 16 contests.
Game 1 hits the ice Friday, 7 p.m. at Prince Albert’s Art Hauser Centre, and Game 2 – also in Prince Albert – is scheduled for Saturday night. In an effort to reduce travel between the two cities, the series will have a 2-3-2 home-game format (rather than the traditional 2-2-1-1-1), which means Games 3 through 5 will all be played at the Langley Events Centre.
Game 3 is set for Tuesday night, 7 p.m., and Game 4 Wednesday at the same time. If Game 5 is necessary, it will be played at the LEC Friday, May 10. Games 6 and 7 – again, if necessary – will be played in Prince Albert May 12 and 13.
The two teams did play head-to-head once this season, with the Giants prevailing 3-1 when the teams met at the LEC. Koch scored twice in that game, with Brayden Watts adding the other goal.