Gresham resident rides high with well-dressed Giants

For the Memorial Cup, the owner of the Vancouver Giants outfitted all of his players in lavish, tailored suits. Apparently, they are not Armani suits, but something just as dapper.

'Pretty expensive,' says Vancouver's Jason Reese, who adds that he has nothing similar in his closet back home in Gresham.

Owner Ron Toigo has spoiled his players in many ways, but the Giants have rewarded him with an outstanding team that will take the ice in the Memorial Cup at Moncton, New Brunswick. Reese, the 17-year-old, third-line winger who hopes to return for Centennial High graduation ceremonies June 6, says he and his teammates have focused on winning the next game, rather than be caught up in the hype of the big event.

'We're just excited to go and play,' says Reese, who has five goals and three assists in 18 playoff games. 'No one knows what to expect. We can't think we're necessarily going to win.'

All games will be shown live on Comcast (14). The Giants play the host Moncton Wildcats at 4 p.m. Saturday, the Quebec Ramparts at 1 p.m. Sunday and the Peterborough Petes at 4 p.m. Tuesday. A tiebreaker game would be at noon Thursday. The semifinal is scheduled for 4 p.m. May 26, followed by the final at 1 p.m. May 28.

The Giants' devastating depth and work ethic, and high-end players like Gilbert Brule (16 goals, 14 assists in 18 games), allowed them to cruise through the Western Hockey League playoffs. Vancouver lost only two games Ñ winning 11 in a row, with sweeps of Everett and Moose Jaw Ñ since the Winter Hawks beat the Giants 1-0 in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Prince George was the most physical team the Giants faced, Reese says, and Portland skill players gave them the most fits. Brandon Dubinsky, Jannik Hansen and crew nearly won Game 3 (4-3, overtime loss) and Game 4 (3-1 loss) in Portland. And an incredible game by goalie Kurtis Mucha kept the Winter Hawks close in Game 5, a 2-0 loss.

Clearly, Portland played Vancouver tougher than Everett played the Giants. Everett got outscored 16-2, with three consecutive shutouts in the sweep.

'I don't know if they gave up or our system was too much,' Reese says.

Reese likely will be part of two Memorial Cup teams Ñ and maybe two championships. The Giants play host to the prestigious event next year.


Dubinsky, who had five goals and 10 assists in 12 games in his final playoffs with the Winter Hawks, signed with the New York Rangers, and excelled with Hartford in the American Hockey League playoffs. He had four goals and three assists in the first-round series, and a goal and two assists in Hartford's second-round series defeat.

'Very impressive. He played very well. He had his moments in a bigger, stronger, quicker league,' says Don Maloney, assistant general manager for the Rangers.

Maloney envisions Dubinsky playing at Hartford next season. 'He's mentally smart enough to play (in the NHL),' Maloney says. 'But Brandon has to be in top condition. He has to get better at that. But he had a terrific debut as a pro.'

Paul Gaustad plays with Buffalo against Carolina in the NHL Eastern Conference finals, starting Saturday. Coach Mike Williamson uses Gaustad, Adam Deadmarsh and Brenden Morrow as shining examples of how hard work and grit pay off.

'He's got size and a tremendous work ethic,' Williamson says. 'And one of the biggest things he's done is win faceoffs. É Williamson has been playing some golf and scouting and took part in the WHL's U.S. Prospects Camp last weekend at Anaheim, Calif. 'I've watched a lot less (of NHL playoffs) this year than in the past,' says Williamson, who has a young daughter. 'I end up watching 'Sesame Street.' 'É Portland signed defenseman Jacob Cole of Tucson, Ariz., in the special U.S. Prospect entry draft. É First-round bantam pick Riley Boychuk, a 6-2, 170-pound left wing from Abbotsford, British Columbia, probably will be among the players at Winter Hawks prospect camp June 8 through June 11, in Calgary, Alberta.

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