Perhaps last year it would have been a different story.
The Vancouver Giants had just killed off a 92-second two-man advantage and then the subsequent 28 seconds to get back to even strength. However, four seconds after the second penalty expired, Isaac Johnson took a sweet feed from Parker AuCoin and beat David Tendeck to tie the score at three with 15 minutes remaining.
This was coming off the heels of the Giants most dominant period of their fourth Western Hockey League game of the season, a period in which they scored twice and out-shot the visiting Tri-City Americans 18-4.
But instead of letting the game slip away, Vancouver responded with three goals in 3:21 to prevail 6-3 on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre. The win evened Vancouver’s record at 2-2-0-0 while the Americans fell to 2-3-0-0.
Ty Ronning notched the eventual game-winner before Owen Hardy added pair to seal the team’s second straight victory.
“It comes with experience. Last year we didn’t know how to control a lead; it would blow up in our faces and I think this time around, we are experienced where we know just to keep it simple and throw pucks at the net,” Ronning said.
Ronning finished the game with a goal and an assist, but also had a post and crossbar in the second period.
On the winning goal, defenceman Bowen Byram chipped the puck to Brad Morrison.
“I knew Mo would give me the puck if I called for it — he is an unselfish player — and kind of put it in my wheelhouse and I knew where I wanted to put it and it went in,” Ronning said.
The Giants were trailing early as Johnson scored a power-play goal 1:34 into the contest and Maxwell Jones made it 2-0 a dozen minutes later when his wrist shot from the wing eluded Tendeck.
Brayden Watts would bag the first of his two goals, burying a rebound off a James Malm shot to make it 2-1 after 20 minutes.
And less than six minutes into the middle frame, Tyler Ho scored his first career WHL goal to tie the score.
“It feels great. I was pretty pumped up,” Ho said.
“I just jumped up and stole the puck and split the D and shot five-hole.”
Malm and Watts then completed a pretty give-and-go with Watts second goal giving Vancouver its first lead with four minutes to play before intermission.
But when Johnson tied the score at three, the Giants didn’t hang their heads as might have been the case in 2016/17.
Ho said coach Jason McKee has been preaching positivity.
And they were rewarded with first Ronning’s goal and then two quick ones from Hardy. Both of Hardy’s tallies were set up my Malm, who finished with four assists.
“They are a good team, so coming out with a win was pretty big,” Malm said.
This was the Giants’ second straight win but while last time, the bulk of the scoring came from the top line, Friday’s victory saw three lines contribute.
“You don’t just want to be a one-dimensional team that has just one line that can score,” Malm said.
McKee was pleased with all the phases of his team’s game.
“It was a real well-rounded effort,” he said. “We would like to give up a few less Grade A (scoring opportunities) but that being said, you compare it to where we were at this time last year to where we are now and it’s night and day.”
He said the team is buying-in to what the coaches are teaching them.
“Nobody is trying to win the game by themselves individually and creating a turnover that ends up in an odd-man rush the other way,” he said.
“Our decision making has been so much better in regards to the blue line and it allows us to keep the puck going north as much as possible.”
The two teams will battle it out once again at the LEC on Saturday, Oct. 7. Puck drop is 7 p.m.