Summer truly has sped by! It’s already August and September is just around the corner. Autumn in Langley is truly beautiful, the leaves falling, the crisp fall air, but that’s for another blog post. I’m here to talk about the other season that’s coming up… Hockey season! With the falling of leaves also comes the smoothing of ice, the yelling of fans, and the grinding of skates. Fall, however, will be even more special this year as Langley is set to welcome a new organization to their hockey community. The Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League are moving to the Langley Events Centre so I thought I’d write a little synopsis on their organization and what it will mean to have them joining the community of Langley!
The Vancouver Giants took up home in the Pacific Coliseum for their inaugural season in 2001. This means that the upcoming season will be their 16th anniversary! In 2006 the Giants were crowned WHL champions just five years after coming into the league and in 2007 they won it all with a Memorial Cup Championship. At this point you might be asking how did they win their league then win something beyond that the next year. For those who don’t know the workings of major junior hockey I’ll quickly explain that. In Canada the CHL is the governing body of major junior hockey; so under their wing three leagues exist. These three leagues are the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. The WHL has teams from Manitoba to BC and even a few teams in Washington and Oregon. The OHL hosts teams from Ontario, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Finally, the QMJHL, or “The Q” as many call it, operates with teams from the Maritime provinces and Quebec. So, each year every league has their own playoff with an eventual champion. Those three championship teams plus one team from the host city play in a 4 team playoff to see who is crowned memorial cup champion. So yes, if you were paying attention Vancouver was the host city for the memorial cup in 2007 as they did not win the WHL that year.
Long story short the CHL is a developmental hockey league with the idea of turning kids into NHL players. So are there any big names that have come out of the Giants organization? The answer is yes and here being a few of the highlights. Brendan Gallagher(Montreal Canadiens), Cody Franson(Buffalo Sabres), Evander Kane(Buffalo Sabres), and Milan Lucic(Edmonton Oilers), just to name a few. The roster this season looks to be as strong as ever also. Headed up by right wing Ty Ronning (if the name sounds familiar its Canuck great Cliff Ronning’s son) and D-man Brennan Menell, the Giants look forward to their quest for WHL greatness. Captain Tyler Benson is looking to follow up breakout season last year. All in all, the Giants are looking forward to playing in their new home this season and I’m sure Langley is more the happy to welcome them!
The home opener is September 23rd against Everett so be sure to get your tickets now. I know I’m excited as everyone else to have WHL hockey in Langley, it will be a great way to see future stars and enjoy some top notch hockey!