A trip down south in the pre-season earned the Langley-based Vancouver Giants two out of three victories in as many days, and four game evictions.
While the junior ice hockey team prepare to play their next game at home this coming Friday, they were down in Washington this past weekend to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs, and Tri-City Americans in a trio of exhibition games in Everett, Wash.
In the first exhibition game of the season Friday, the Giants pulled out a 4-2 victory over the Thunderbirds.
Milos Roman and Cyle McNabb each scored twice for the G-Men, while the goaltending tandem of Trent Miner and Drew Sim combined to make 22 saves.
Graeme Bryks and Cade McNelly supplied the goals for the Thunderbirds.
Then, 53 seconds into the first period Seattle struck first, when forward Graeme Bryks knocked his own rebound past Miner off the rush. Zack Andrusiak and Andrej Kukuca added the assists.
Vancouver’s power play would get them back even at 10:17, when Calgary Flames prospect Roman whacked home his first of two goals for the afternoon.
Roman’s goal was assisted by both Jared Dmytriw and Alex Kannok Leipert.
The power play wasn’t done.
With under a minute to go in the first frame, McNabb parked himself in the slot and one-timed a feed from Matt Barberis by Seattle goaltender Cole Schwebius to make it a 2-1 game.
Shots after one period favoured Vancouver 9-4.
Miner, Giants starting goaltender, was far busier in the second period as he faced a handful of quality Seattle chances early on. Miner’s best sequence of saves came on Seattle’s third power play of the game.
“The offence would thank him shortly,” said Giants play-by-play broadcaster Dan O’Connor.
McNabb notched his second goal of the game at 9:57 when he converted off a Justin Sourdif pass. McNabb’s marker came right as a Seattle penalty had expired to move the Giants lead to 3-1.
Sim, and under-ager, replaced Miner in goal for Vancouver at the 10:55 mark of the second period, where he remained for the rested of the game. Shots were 20-16 for the G-Men through two periods.
Defenceman Cade McNelly moved Seattle back within a goal at 10:41 of the third period when his shot from the point found its way past
Sim. But that’s as close as they’d come on Friday afternoon.
Some key shot blocking late from the likes of Barberis and Bailey Dhaliwal, coupled with an empty-net goal from Roman at 19:55 helped secure the Giants the 4-2 victory.
The final shots were 26-25 for Vancouver.
Younger players dressed
Then, fast forward to Saturday, and the Giants’ next exhibition game in Everett would result in a 3-2 triumph against Spokane at the 1:42 minute mark in overtime.
Brayden Watts scored the game-tying and game-winning goals for the Giants.
Between the pipes Braedy Euerby played the full game for Vancouver and made 22 saves.
Jarret Anderson-Dolan and Carter Chorney responded with goals for Spokane who fall to 1-0-1-0 in the exhibition season.
Through a scoreless first period the shots were 11-8 favouring the Chiefs.
Spokane dressed a veteran-laden lineup that included Anderson-Dolan, a Los Angeles Kings prospect, and 2018 New Jersey Devils first-rounder Ty Smith.
Conversely the Giants dressed a younger lineup on Saturday that featured no 20-year-olds.
Chorney got Spokane on the board at 5:09 of the second period when he pounced on a Luke Gallagher rebound and tucked it past Euerby. Smith also added an assist on Chorney’s third marker of the pre-season.
Late in the middle period the Giants answered when rookie Lukas Svejkovsky won the race to an Owen Hardy rebound and wired it past Chiefs netminder Bailey Brkin.
Vancouver’s power play finished the night one-for-five and is three-for-11 through two exhibition games. The penalty-kill went four-for-four.
50 seconds later, Anderson-Dolan restored Spokane’s lead when he snuck past the Giants defence, took a pass from Jeff Faith and beat Euerby with a backhand shot.
The Chiefs took that 2-1 lead into the second intermission, despite being outshot 26-20 by the Giants.
Michael Dyck’s team came out strong in the third period.
They outshot Spokane 8-3, and at 10:23 of the final frame they tied the game when Watts snuck a low shot past Brkin off a “slick breakaway feed” from Roman, O’Connor recounted.
Bowen Byram added the second assist on Watts’ first goal of the night.
No winner was decided through 60 minutes but Watts helped Vancouver complete their comeback in overtime.
Kaleb Bulych got the play started when he raced wide on the Chiefs defenceman along the right-wing and let a low shot go on Brkin. He stopped the shot, but kicked his rebound back in front of the net, where Watts was waiting to snap it home.
The final shots were 37-24 for the Giants.
Goals, punches traded
It was the third game in three days for both the Giants and the Americans, Sunday in Everett, where the G-Men dropped what O’Connor called a “hard-fought, feisty 3-2 shootout decision” to their U.S. counterparts.
Davis Koch and Watts had goals in regulation for the Giants while their netminder, David Tendeck, turned aside 34 of the 36 shots fired his way in his first pre-season appearance.
Issac Johnson had both goals for the Americans in regulation, while Connor Bouchard had the lone shootout tally in Round 4 to clinch the win for the Ams.
The game featured multiple fights and subsequent ejections.
The two teams combined for 142 penalty minutes. O’Connor explained.
Johnson opened the scoring for Tri-City at the 16:52 mark of the first period. His first of two on the night came on the power play and was assisted by both Kyle Olson and Tom Cadieux. Despite outshooting the Ams 10-8 in the first period, the Giants went into the first intermission trailing 1-0.
“The two teams would trade goals, and many punches in the middle period,” O’Connor said.
First it was Johnson, who increased the Tri-City lead to 2-0 just 26 seconds in. Koch quickly countered with his first of the pre-season at 3:14 to put the Giants on the board. Koch’s marker came via the power play which finished one-for-three.
The final minutes of the second period were aggressive and fight-filled, he elaborated.
Dhaliwal, a Giants defenceman, squared off with Jarod Newell who took exception to an open ice hit that Dhaliwal had executed seconds beforehand. Both players got tossed.
One shift later a collision in the Tri-City zone resulted in multiple fights.
When all was said and done, Koch, Hardy and Kaleb Bullych were kicked out of the game for Vancouver while Riley Bruce, Brett Clayton, and Mitchell Brown got shown the door for Tri-City.
Shots were 19-19 through two but the G-Men trailed 2-1.
Tendeck did his part to keep the Giants within one goal.
He stopped all 14 shots fired his way in the final period. Vancouver countered with only seven shots of their own, but one of them managed to sneak past Tri-City netminder Talyn Boyko.
For a third time in two games, Watts came through with a goal for the Giants. This one came from the right-wing half boards and was assisted by Tanner Brown.
Overtime would be needed for a second straight game, only this time the extra five minutes did not yield a winner.
That meant shootout.
Neither team scored in the first three rounds as Watts, Dylan Plouffe, and Dmytriw were stopped for the Giants while Johnson, Kyle Olson, and Krystof Hrabik came up empty for Tri-City.
Following a Dawson Holt miss, Tri-City’s forward Bouchard ended the game when his attempt deflected off the post, off Tendeck and across the line to improve Tri-City’s pre-season record to 2-1.
Final shots were 36-27 for Tri-City.
The Giants power play went one-for-three and went four-for-14 through three games this weekend.
Taking on the Royals
Up next for the Giants, they play a home pre-season matchup against Victoria on Friday at 7 p.m. That marks the first of a four-team, five-game pre-season showcase tournament taking place at Langley Events Centre.