By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Last night the Western Hockey League Vancouver Giants were on the road at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, to play the Kamloops Blazers. The Giants got a come-from-behind victory over an excellent Blazers team who currently sits in the first spot in the B.C. Division and second position in the Western Conference with a regular-season record of 34-13-2-0 and 70 points in 49 games played. With last night’s win, Vancouver improves their season record to 19-24-2-0 with 40 points, good enough for the seventh spot in the Western Conference, seven points ahead of eighth-place Tri-City Americans.
Boston Bruins forward prospect Fabian Lysell had two goals and an assist in last night’s 4-3 overtime win and was voted as the second star of the game. With a three-point effort against Kamloops, the 2021 first-round selection of the B’s now has points in his last four consecutive games and the second-longest point streak of his WHL rookie season. Lysell’s career-high point streak is five games that stretched from November 26th, 2021, to December 4th, 2021, producing 5-7-12 numbers.
The home Blazers were up 2-0 after 40 minutes, but the Giants came alive in the final frame, starting with the first Vancouver goal coming from Lysell at the 3:46 mark assisted by Ty Thorpe and Payton Mount. Fabian was at the right place at the right time for the one-timer scoring his 16th goal of the season as the Blazers defenseman tried to poke check the puck away from the play, but Lysell rifled on past the netminder from inside the left faceoff circle about hash marks deep.
After scoring the first Giants goal in the third period, the B’s prospect was involved in the following Vancouver tally to tie the game at two at the 8:12 mark. Lysell carried the puck through the neutral zone crossing the blueline, getting a shot on the net before the Blazer defenseman was close enough, forcing the B’s prospect to get a shot on goal. The Blazers goaltender made the save, but the puck conveniently bounced to Giants forward Zach Ostapchuk, who was out front all alone for the second Giants goal of the game. With the assist on the second Giants goal, Fabian now has two helpers in two consecutive games.
The Blazers and Giants traded goals in the mid-third period having the game tied at three. This was exciting back and forth action as both clubs picked up the physicality, not giving each other an inch battling until the game’s final buzzer. Both teams required overtime to settle the score, and was another entertaining frame trying to decide a winner and ultimately capture the game’s second point. With the extra session at the Sandman Centre, Lysell would become the game’s hero as the B’s prospect came in all alone with seconds to spare to seize the 4-3 overtime victory with his 17th goal of the season.
Lysell had a breakaway opportunity to end this game earlier in the overtime period, but this final one of the game, he wouldn’t go 0-2. With the overtime period having three on three play, the ice opened up for both teams to earn the win, and with the way both clubs locked their efforts down mid-third period, the only way this game could be won was from an individual effort coming in all alone. Stick taps to Giants defenseman Evan Toth for reading the open sheet and stretch, passing a tape-to-tape pass up the middle to a speedy Lysell, who got the eventual game-winner.
In 32 games played this season with Vancouver, Lysell now has 17-21-38 totals with 23 games remaining in the Giants 2021/22 regular-season. Fabian is a +15 on the year thus far and has four power-play goals when on special teams. The 5′-10″ 172-pound right-winger has 106 shots on goal and had a WHL career-high last night with eight of them. Another funny stat for the B’s prospect is his usage in the faceoff dot as a winger. While Lysell wasn’t commonly used for faceoffs for a majority of the season, in the last eight games, he’s sparked some intriguing numbers when gaining an edge offensively when the puck is dropped.
Vancouver Giants Head Coach Michael Dyck seems to have a tremendous amount of trust in Lysell’s hard work in the dot and uses him sparingly trying to win draws in certain situations. In the last eight games, Lysell has 24 faceoff wins in 42 opportunities. Now nobody’s saying the former first-round selection is shifting his development to the center position but rather an experience gainer and attributes builder. Those who follow the 19-year-old closely like me have seen him all over the WHL Giants lineup, gaining valuable experience with playing his off-wing, recent faceoff duties, and up and down the top-nine of the Vancouver offensive structure.
Lysell could get some time in the American Hockey League to finish the hockey year if his season commitment is fulfilled with Vancouver Giants junior team. By the looks of it, the Giants could get in the postseason as their current seventh seed in the Western Conference, and playoff longevity from there nobody knows. If the American Hockey League Providence Bruins are still involved in their 2021/22 regular season, and Lysell is available to play, it’s not out of the question for a CHL prospect like himself sign an Amateur Try-Out agreement and finish out the season at the minor-pro level.
Fabian’s placement in the WHL is genius when I think about his development. Out of the three major-junior leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League, what is commonly known as the “dub” is the perfect place for a player like Lysell. He’s been fun to watch on and off the puck in his rookie season and learning the North American game almost seamlessly with his offensive output and physicality in traffic or those “dirty” areas. He is heavily rumored to be the steal of the draft when it comes to his skating and a knack for creating space between himself and opponents’ backchecking effort.
I believe a player like Fabian is exciting, and fans love hearing about his progression in his first year of development hockey here in North America. I’m a fan as well but also a firm believer in a proper developmental process. Whether Lysell stays in the WHL next season or is ready to make the jump to the AHL after a successful NHL training camp in the fall, an entire season with Providence should be the plan.
After a full year working with Head Coach Ryan Mougenel and assistants Trent Whitfield and Matt Thomas, I think that time should evaluate his NHL arrival for the following year. To me, there’s no need to rush players anymore from the podium to the center stage. Obviously, lower first-round talent has a higher percentage of cracking an NHL roster, but most take a year to two lately to fine-tune their skills in the minor-pro ranks or returned to their junior clubs. Total gamble, in my opinion.
The next game for the Vancouver Giants is home tomorrow afternoon at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, BC, against the Victoria Royals. The Royals currently sit in the ninth spot in the Western Conference with a regular-season record of 13-30-4-1 with 31 points in 48 games. The Victoria club is currently 1-9-0-0 in their last ten games and is 7-15-3 on the road.
The puck drop is tomorrow against the visiting Victoria team is 2 pm PST. The Giants have a home record of 8-12-1-0 at the Langley, and the last time the Royals visited the Giants arena, Victoria handed to host club a 5-2 loss on Friday, February 18th, 2022 but got beat last night in Everett, Washington, against the Silvertips.