The Vancouver Giants are a force again in the Western Hockey League.
One year after a 21-49-2-0 record and last-place finish in the Western Conference, the Giants have shrugged off a bad start to 2013-14 and are moving up the standings.
The Giants caught the league’s attention Friday by ending the top-ranked Kelowna Rockets’ 16-game winning streak with a 4-2 home decision.
“We’re just putting our heads down and working,” Jackson Houck told Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province after scoring three goals against Kelowna.
“We want teams to say, ‘Vancouver’s a hard team to play against and they didn’t give us much.’ ”
Vancouver started the year 1-7-1-1 but is 20-8-4-1 since Oct. 12, with eight wins in its last 11 games.
The Giants (49 points) are three points behind fourth- place Spokane and Everett.
Vancouver won five consecutive B.C. Division titles from 2005-10 and finished second the next two seasons.
Moose Jaw traded 19-year-old defenseman Travis Brown to the Victoria Royals on Monday for 15-year-old prospect Noah Gregor, two bantam draft picks and a conditional pick. Brown, who played 182 games with the Warriors over three seasons, leaves the Eastern Conference’s 10th-place team for the Western Conference’s third-place team.
“We owe it to this group of players to give them every opportunity to win when the playoffs come,” general manager Cam Hope told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist.
Everett acquired center Remi Laurencelle from Lethbridge on Sunday for two bantam draft picks. Medicine Hat traded 18-year-old defenseman Spenser Jensen to Moose Jaw on Friday for two bantam draft picks and a conditional pick.
The trade deadline is Friday.
Former Spokane Chief Tyler Johnson (Central Valley High) of the Tampa Bay Lightning is tied for fourth among rookie scorers in the National Hockey League with 23 points.
Johnson, 23, has 11 goals and 12 assists through 43 games.
Around the league
Kelowna’s Myles Bell picked up two honors, WHL Player of the Week and Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday, after he totaled five goals and five assists in four games. Kelowna’s Tyson Baillie was named WHL Player of the Month after recording five goals and 15 assists during December. Calgary’s Chris Driedger was named Goaltender of the Month after recording a .946 save percentage and 7-1-1-0 record.