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Giant Experience

Brett Festerling, Spencer Machacek, Kenndal McArdle and Evander Kane share Memorial Cup Experience

Friday, 20.01.2012 / 11:00 AM / Feature
By Kristi Hennessy  - Coordinator, Web Content
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Giant Experience
Brett Festerling, Spencer Machacek, Kenndal McArdle and Evander Kane share Memorial Cup Experience

Winning a hockey championship at any age creates a bond that is cherished forever.

The Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League are one many teams who have a proven track record of success. The Giants won the WHL Championship in 2005-06 and then Memorial Cup the next season in their home barn. If you were to look closely at the team photo after they captured the coveted Cup, you will be able to count over 10 players who have played at least one NHL game. 

There are four players in the Winnipeg Jets system who were on that Memorial Cup winning team. Brett Festerling, Spencer Machacek, Kenndal McArdle and Jets’ superstar Evander Kane were all Vancouver Giants and hold a lot of special memories from their time there.

Former Giants’ Captain Brett Festerling described the organization, “First class is probably the first thing I’d say. Ron Toigo, the owner, does an incredible job. He takes care of the guys and puts a lot back into the guys. It’s beyond what anyone would expect from junior.

“I won two championships there and that makes it one of my top hockey memories for sure. I go back to Vancouver and train with those guys every summer. Milan Lucic just won the Stanley Cup so I went back for the cup party.”

Kane, who started with the Giants at 15 years old, played eight games at the end of the regular season, five playoff games, and the Memorial Cup final in 2007.

That definitely helped kick start my junior career. - Evander Kane
“That definitely helped kick-start my junior career,” said Kane. “Coming into my first full rookie year as a 16-year-old really gave me a lot of confidence early on. I was able to have a pretty solid year. Then came my draft year which was a really big year for me. I wanted to have a really big push and boost myself up and I was able to do that. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the Vancouver Giants.

“The organization is such a great family,” he continued. “They really bring you in and give you the best treatment possible, right from Toigo, to Scott Bonner, (General Manager), to Don Hay (Head Coach). I think Don really helped me and really made me into the player that I could be. He gave me an opportunity early on. He was the best junior coach I’ve ever seen.”

Kane feels that having a few close friends in the Jets locker room from his junior days will cement their bond at the NHL level. Even the equipment manager of the Winnipeg Jets, Jay McMaster, is a Giants alumnus.

“It’s great to see familiar faces,” said Kane. “Jay McMaster was my first ever equipment manager and he was on that team and now he’s here in Winnipeg.  It’s great to see guys you’ve won with before and I think that is a pretty big bonus in the dressing room.”

Kane, a Vancouver native, travels home to visit his pals every summer to reconnect and catch-up.

“There are a lot of guys from that team that still get together every year at the Giants’ golf tournament and a lot of guys are still out in Vancouver in the summers training,” said Kane. “We definitely still stay close.”

McArdle, who was acquired by the Giants midway through the 2006-07 season from the Moose Jaw Warriors, says that his time with the organization is something he’ll cherish forever.

“The organization is run as close to a professional organization as you can,” says McArdle. “I think anytime that you win a championship weather you’re young or old, in junior or in pro, it’s always something that keeps you close.

“It was pretty special for me. That’s my home, and to be able to win a championship in my hometown in front of 16,000 people I think is something that you’ll always cherish.

It was the moment when Spencer Machacek scored the empty net goal to make it 3-1. Once that happened, that’s when it really set in. You couldn’t get those seconds to count any quicker. I tried to take a breath and just take it all in. It’s definitely one of my proudest hockey moments.”

All four Giants alumni described coach Don Hay to be a tough, hard-nosed coach who expects a lot but to also be one of the most rewarding coaches to have ever played for.

“I don’t think there is anyone that’s not going to say that he isn’t a hard coach,” said McArdle. “He expects a lot but I think that is why he has done so well and why you can say that it’s almost like a professional organization. You’re held accountable and you’re treated with the upmost resect as well. He’s a hard-nosed coach but he has the ability to get top players to play at the top of their game.”

Hay is known for his great coaching tactics both on, and off the ice.

“He would always teach us about how to be professional and help us give us that extra step to get to the next level,” said Machacek. “He puts ownership on you to grow up quicker and it definitely helped. I owe a lot of where I am today, to that organization.”

All four boys have grown into men and have reached the highest level of hockey. They will always look back and thank the ones who helped them along their journey of success.

“There are a lot of good friendships and bonds that I made through that organization, I owe a lot of who I am to them.” – Brett Festerling.




1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46


B. Little 63 24 26 9 50
A. Ladd 63 20 30 12 50
B. Wheeler 61 16 28 12 44
D. Byfuglien 63 15 26 6 41
M. Perreault 56 18 18 3 36
M. Scheifele 63 10 25 4 35
M. Frolik 63 13 19 3 32
D. Stafford 57 10 17 -18 27
J. Tlusty 53 13 10 -17 23
E. Kane 37 10 12 -1 22
M. Hutchinson 18 7 5 .920 2.29
O. Pavelec 13 13 7 .909 2.60
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