Kelowna Rockets Connor Bruggen-Cate — who is from Langley — holds off Vancouver Giants defenceman Brennan Riddle during WHL action at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday. Riddle was playing his first home game since being traded to the Giants earlier this month. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Kelowna Rockets Connor Bruggen-Cate — who is from Langley — holds off Vancouver Giants defenceman Brennan Riddle during WHL action at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday. Riddle was playing his first home game since being traded to the Giants earlier this month. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Packed house gives Giants extra boost

Largest crowd at Langley Events Centre since opening night last season

The Vancouver Giants learned just how much a home-crowd advantage can help.

The Giants played in front of 4,753 fans at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday night, with the fans going home happy after a 3-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets.

“As a coach you try to focus on what is on the ice most, but you could feel the energy, our guys could hear it,” said Vancouver coach Jason McKee.

“Our guys really fed off that tonight.”

The crowd was the largest since the Giants first game in Langley, at the start of the 2016/17 campaign, when announced attendance at the LEC was 4,875.

And the players definitely noticed the buzz.

“We do feel a lot of the energy, we definitely build off that,” said Giants winger Ty Ronning, who notched his 40th of the season.

“I think it (crowd support) has a lot to do with our success. We love their support, the die-hard fans, and we feed off it.”

“The fans were awesome. It is so much fun playing (in an atmosphere) like this, it energizes the boys,” added goaltender David Tendeck, who finished with 28 saves and improved his goals against average to 2.93 and his save percentage to .911. Both statistics put him in the top 10.

The teams were tied at two goals apiece after Kelowna’s Leif Mattson banked the puck off a Giants defender’s stick early in the third period. But James Malm converted a two-on-one for the winning goal five minutes later, re-directing a centring pass from Dawson Holt.

It was Malm’s ninth game-winning goal (out of 17), which puts him atop the Western Hockey League in that category.

“I wouldn’t say there is any secret, I am just scoring goals at the right time,” Malm offered after his latest winner.

He also spoke after Giants practice earlier this week on the subject.

“Obviously every goal is big in this league but to get a game winner, is a different feeling than a regular goal,” he said.

“It means a bit more, that’s for sure.”

The win keeps Vancouver unbeaten in regulation over nine games (7-0-2-0) as they improved to 25-14-4-2 and their 56 points put them one back of Kelowna (27-13-2-1) for top spot in the B.C. Division. The Rockets do have two games in hand.

Malm, who also had an assist and extended his point streak to nine games (four goals, 13 points), was one of three Giants to finish with two points as Owen Hardy scored once and set up Ronning, while Holt finished with a pair of helpers.

Kelowna’s opening goal came courtesy of Connor Bruggen-Cate, as the Langley product notched his 10th of the season.

Malm was flanked by Holt and Davis Koch, who was picked up at the WHL trade deadline.

Koch, who grew up in White Rock, was thrilled with the chance to play so close to home. He also had a loud contingent of family and friends cheering him on Saturday night.

“It is pretty awesome, pretty surreal right now. I played midget in this rink so coming here to play is pretty awesome,” he said earlier this week.

Koch is familiar with playing in the LEC, having spent time with the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget Hockey League. He has also skated with Malm at Hawks camps and in the summertime, as well as being a former teammate with Valley West of current Giants defenceman Matt Barberis.

Vancouver is back in action on Friday as they host the Victoria Royals at the LEC. Game time is 7:30 p.m. It is one of two home games this weekend as the Giants also welcome Portland to town the following night at 7 p.m.



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Vancouver GiantsWHL

Just Posted

Shortreed Elementary received $40,000 from the Indigo Love of Reading foundation to purchase new books. (Special to The Star)
VIDEO: Shortreed one of 30 Canadian schools aided by Indigo’s Love of Reading program

Aldergrove school received $40,000, which will be put towards new books for the library

Students staged a flash mob on the last day of dancing at Lisa’s School of Dance in Langley City on Saturday, June 19. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Final dances held at Lisa Dew’s dance school in Langley City

After 35 years, the school has been forced to close due to the bottom-line impact of the pandemic

Jessica Horst, a volunteer with the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society, picked Scotch Broom at Jackman Wetlands on Wednesday night. (Lisa Dreves/Special to The Star)
Scotch broom removal a big task six years in the making at Jackman Wetlands

Volunteers filled a truck-full of invasive shrub growing rampant in Aldergrove park

Health and safety protocols for arriving international travellers are strict and don’t consider reasons for travel, says a letter writer. (Black Press Media files)
LETTER: Langley performer irked by ever-changing, inconsistent COVID rules

Letter writer feels she had not choice but to move to Mexico to ride out pandemic

A fawn separated from his mother by a well-meaning homeowner in Maple Ridge is a cautionary tale, say Conservation officers and staff at Langley’s Critter Care wildlife sanctuary. (Critter Care/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Maple Ridge fawn in Langley wildlife sanctuary after separation from mother

Wildlife officials say moving a fawn is not a good idea

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read