2007 Vancouver Giants
Induction Year: 2023
Do whatever is required to win was the Western Hockey League’s 2007 Vancouver Giants’ Memorial Cup winning team motto.
“I thought we had a team that could play any way you want. We could play a skilled game. We could play a tough game. We had this unique group of kids,” said former Giants General Manager Scott Bonner.
The 2007 Giants team is being inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame for their outstanding season, coming off back-to-back B.C. Division titles and a redemption of sorts by defeating the Medicine Hat Tigers to win the CHL Memorial Cup after losing the WHL President’s Trophy to them. Even sweeter for the Giants, is that they did it in their backyard as hosts for the Memorial Cup tournament.
“It is a hard trophy to win. To win this in Western Canada, with all our friends and family there is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I cherish it even more now that I am looking back on it,” said Bonner.
The Giants learned through adversity. They were the WHL champions the year before only to have their Memorial Cup debut dreams dashed in the semi-final. They were not going to settle for anything less than hoisting the trophy in 2007 with future-NHL players Michal Repik and Milan Lucic helping lead the way offensively during their run. The Giants also added Wacey Rabbit at the trade deadline to strengthen their top line. A total of 12 Giants from this winning squad went on to play in the NHL, including Evander Kane.
Don Hay, who is the winningest coach in WHL history, was at the helm for the Giants when they battled their way through the regular season with a 45-17-3-7 record and faced the Medicine Hat Tigers (52-17-3) in an intense series to decide who would be the WHL champion. It took a double-overtime Game 7 decision to determine that, but much to the disappointment of the Giants, it was the Tigers who skated away with that crown. They would meet again though.
The Giants defeated the Plymouth Whalers and the Lewiston MAINE-iacs in the Memorial Cup round-robin, setting the stage for a rematch against the Tigers. Another intense battle but it was a single goal, and the only goal scored by either side, for the Tigers in the second period determining the game and punching their ticket to the final. The Giants then easily pushed aside the Whalers in the semi-final to earn their trip to the championship game.
For the ninth time that month, the Giants suited up against their rival and made Memorial Cup history for only the second time for an all-WHL final. It was a physical battle with Lucic setting the tone in the first period delivering punishing body checks on the Tigers. The Giants Mario Bliznak opened the scoring in the second period, but the Tigers surged back to tie it before the middle frame ended. Repik’s wrap-around broke the tie at 15:05 of the third period and an empty net goal by Spencer Machacek sealed the victory for the Giants, 3-1.
Lucic was named the MVP, Repik took the Ed Chynoweth Trophy as the Memorial Cup leading scorer and both were joined by teammates Cody Franson and Brendan Mikkelson being named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team.
“It was just a really exciting part of all of our lives because the city was electric. We learned a lot, in a way, from our failure the year before and we came back really focused and on a mission,” said Bonner.