Debating Bowen Byram’s most impressive stat from this weekend can be a fun party game
In this corner, we have the Vancouver Giants’ sophomore rearguard setting a team record for points by a defenceman in a single game with his two goals and three assists against the Kamloops Blazers in a 7-4 win at the Langley Events Centre Saturday night before a crowd of 4,244.
And, in this corner, we have that Saturday outburst along with Byram’s first-period marker in Sunday afternoon’s 3-2 win over the Victoria Royals at the LEC in front of 2,788. It was Byram’s 13th tally of the campaign. He leads WHL defencemen in goals and, with Sunday’s marker, has a share of the lead among blue liners nationally with three OHL rearguards.
Each member of the Ontario trio is 20 years old. Byram is 17. He’s expected to be an early selection in next June’s NHL Draft at Rogers Arena.
“He was our catalyst,” Giants coach Michael Dyck said after the game Saturday. “He was ready to play. He was on his toes. He played with lots of energy.”
Byram’s first goal on Saturday night showed off his mobility, as he jumped in from the point and pounced on an Alex Kannok Leipert rebound. His second goal showed Vancouver’s ability to play with jarring speed, as a turnover caused by Jadon Joseph at the Kamloops blue liner instantly became a tic-tac-toe Tristen Nielsen to Davis Koch to Byram goal.
“Everything I touched seemed to end up in the back of the net,” Byram explained Saturday.
On Sunday, Byram converted a cheeky, quick turn pass from Koch. Koch and his suddenly surging linemate Nielsen had a goal and two assists each to help Vancouver (26-12-2-0) take a nine-point lead atop the Royals (22-17-1-0) atop the B.C. Division.
After this weekend Byram has 39 points through 40 games. The Giants record for points in a regular season belongs to Kevin Connauton, who produced 72, including 24 goals, in 69 games in 2009-10.
Connauton had a share of the team’s single game points record for a defenceman before Saturday, thanks to his two goals and two assists in a 7-3 win over the Kelowna Rockets on Dec. 27, 2009.
Jon Blum, Cody Franson, Paul Albers and Neil Manning also put up four-point outings in their time in Vancouver. Blum did it on three occasions. He’s the franchise’s all-time assists leader (155) and sixth overall in points (204).
“It’s pretty cool,” Byram said Saturday of the connection with those prior Vancouver defenceman. “I’m definitely not there yet. Those guys all went on to have good careers. I just have to keep working hard and hopefully things keep going my way.”
Byram, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound left-handed shot from Cranbrook, was slotted at No. 8 in the January draft rankings of Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino. He was the first defenceman on Cosentino’s list.
TSN’s Craig Button had Byram at No. 10 on his January poll. He was Button’s second defenceman, behind Swede Philip Broberg, who was No. 5.
Byram had six goals and 27 points in 60 games last year as a rookie. He added three goals and seven points in Vancouver’s first-round playoff loss to the Royals.
He was the third overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft.
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