Listening to the Vancouver Giants’ post-game comments and you would have believed the team was on the losing end of a 4-0 score. But that was not the case as the Giants remained unbeaten in regulation in the month of November while also stretching their point streak to six games thanks to a victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars.
Vancouver defeated Prince George by that 4-0 margin on Saturday night on home ice at Langley Events Centre, improving to 11-8-1-1 and 40-1-1 in their past six contests. The Cougars fell to 4-15-0-2, the worst record in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference.
“Really disappointed with our effort tonight. It wasn’t even close to how we played the last four games,” assessed Giants head coach Michael Dyck bluntly.
“We didn’t play like a team, I didn’t think we worked as hard as we could have tonight, I didn’t think we competed as hard as we did in the last four games. I didn’t think we played smart or disciplined and we very fortunate to win the hockey game.”
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The Giants were opportunistic on Saturday night, scoring four goals on 23 shots while goaltender David Tendeck turned aside all 38 Prince George shots for his WHL-leading third shutout of the season.
The opening goal saw Dylan Plouffe connect with Tristen Nielsen on a beautiful stretch pass. Nielsen then made a dazzling play, spinning and getting the puck over to Milos Roman with the centre making a nifty move to beat Tyler Brennan for a 1-0 lead after one period.
The Giants doubled the lead in the second period with Zack Ostapchcuk winning the face-off cleanly and Cole Shepard quickly snapping the puck for a 2-0 advantage. And with 1.3 seconds to play in the middle stanza, Roman scored his second off a scramble in front of the Prince George zone.
Nielsen had the final goal early in the third, rifling home a shot short side as the top line finished of Nielsen (one goal, two assists), Roman (two goals) and Justin Sourdif (two assists) had three goals and seven points.
“One positive is two more points., that’s huge for us down the road,” said Nielsen, the game’s first star.
“We really just need to stay disciplined. Really just stick to our coaches’ structure. They get us prepared like crazy … sometimes we are there and sometimes we are not. We just really have to dial it in.”
“We certainly didn’t help him very much tonight, giving up 38 shots. I thought he was really, really good for us,” Dyck said.
Tendeck (the second star) was making his first appearance since November 2, a game which saw him replaced after the first period. Following that game, Trent Miner started the next three, going 2-0-0-1 and earning the WHL Goalie of the Week for his efforts.
Tendeck admitted to feeling ‘game rusty’ to begin, but quickly adapted, making 13 saves in both the first and second periods and then another dozen in the third for his 10th career shutout.
￼The team didn’t help him either, allowing seven Prince George power plays, including a pair of five-on- threes, another bone of contention with Dyck, especially cross-checking penalties when the opponent clearly had their back turned or after the whistle infractions.
The Giants also did not earn much power-play time, only playing with the man advantage for a combined 43 seconds and 0:15 of that came right before the final buzzer.
Vancouver looks to continue their November run as they welcome the Lethbridge Hurricanes to Langley Events Centre on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The Hurricanes come in rested as they were off on Saturday night. They are also 6-2-0-2 in their last 10 and tied for third place in the Eastern Conference at 13-6-0-3.