The return of Ty Ronning brought some electricity to the building, but it was the same old, same old for the Vancouver Giants.
The Giants lost 4-2 to the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday at the Langley Events Centre, and are 0-4 this Western Hockey League season.
Ronning, the son of retired NHL player and Canuck great Cliff, returned from the New York Rangers and had some fine moments, to the delight of the 3,843 in attendance.
But the most part it was a tough night for the G-Men, who surrendered four unanswered goals after opening the scoring.
“For me, it felt sloppy out there,” Ronning said. “Personally, I need to be better and the team needs to be better, and we are going to be better.”
Giants head coach Jason McKee was disappointed about his team’s puck pressure up front.
“Our group of 12 [forwards] got outworked up front, pure and simple,” McKee said.
McKee said he was very surprised by that. “We didn’t have a lot of pace to our game, we didn’t create enough opportunities, we felt we had a lot of guys standing around, waiting for them to make a mistake rather than making them make a mistake. Their d’s are too good to give them time and space.”
Vancouver’s bench boss said he was “very disappointed with our group that we didn’t get after it. If you’re not going to skate and get after it, you’re not going to have success.”
The Giants only had two shots through the first 10 minutes of play and one of them went in, a backhand wraparound by Radovan Bondra that bounced off a defenceman’s skate and into the net.
Ronning notched his first assist of the campaign on the play.
The Thunderbirds scored the equalizer with 7:02 to go in the period. Matthew Wedman took a pass and, finding a hole between a pair of Giants defenders, threw a quick backhand towards the net that eluded Giants goaltender David Tendeck, who was playing his first game of the season.
The visitors moved ahead 2-1 just 1:09 into the second period after Alexander True stuffed in a sneaky little centering pass from Cavin Leth.
Seattle added a crushing goal with 6:10 to play in the middle stanza when Wedman swept in a rebound past Tendeck for his second of the night.
Then, a turnaround shot by Layne Bensmiller whipped over the left shoulder of Tendeck to make it 4-1, just 1:32 into the third period.
Bondra gave the Giants fans something to cheer about when he scored his second of the night with a brilliant end-to-end rush, capped by a quick wrist shot that sailed past the blocker of Thunderbird goaltender Carl Stankowski.
The Giants pulled Tendeck with a minute-and-a-half to play but couldn’t narrow the deficit.
The G-Men have a short turnaround: they host the Kamloops Blazers Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the LEC.
McKee said the key is staying with it.
“Winning is hard and it’s about details and the most important detail is work ethic. I didn’t think we did enough up front to warrant opportunities,” McKee said.