It was an empty weekend for the Vancouver Giants.
Despite twice entering the third period with the score tied against the Spokane Chiefs, the Giants failed to earn any points as they saw their losing streak reach five games (0-3-1-1).
The Giants surrendered a pair of third-period goals in a 3-1 loss on Friday in Spokane and allowed three goals (two of which were into the empty net) in the final frame on Saturday at Langley Events Centre as they fell 6-3 to complete the home-and-home series.
With the teams deadlocked at three nearing the midway point of the third, Eli Zummack got a step on his defender and redirected a pass from Luke Toporowski for what turned out to be the winning goal.
“We were in the same position as last night: going into the third period tied and one mistake and they take advantage of it. We had ample opportunities to score and we didn’t finish,” lamented head coach Michael Dyck.
The lack of goal scoring is something the players know they need to remedy.
“We can’t go off on our own page, we need to continue to stick to the structure,” said Tristan Nielsen. “We are getting our chances, we just really need to know to score again. I think it is just a mindset.”
Vancouver is just one of four Western Hockey League teams to have scored less than 100 goals and they are averaging just 2.49 goals per game. After scoring four or more goals 11 times in the season’s first 24 games, the Giants have only done so three times in the past 15 games. Vancouver is a perfect 14-0-0-0 when scoring four or more goals and just 3-18-2-2 when they fail to reach that mark.
RECAP: The Giants dropped the back-half of a home-and-home series with Spokane Saturday at home. Despite the loss, Tristen Nielsen arrived at the 20-goal mark while Alex Kannok Leipert and Eric Florchuk had multi-point games.
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Despite the loss (which extends Vancouver’s losing streak to a season-high) there were positive developments, although early on that did not appear to be the way the game was heading.
Spokane’s Filip Kral and Zummack gave Spokane a 2-0 lead just 4:15 into the contest but Nielsen and Tyler Preziuso responded with goals 3:45 apart, both of which came on the Giants power play. It marked just the second time this season Vancouver scored multiple power-play goals and the 2-for-4 performance lifted the team’s much-maligned man-advantage unit out of dead-last in the WHL. Vancouver now sits 21st out of 22 teams, operating at a paltry 12.9 per cent (17-for-132).
And the Giants took a 3-2 lead to the locker room thanks to a deft deflection from Zack Ostapchuk on a great pass from Kaden Kohle in the final minute of the first period. The lead stood until the 15:04 mark of the middle stanza when Adam Beckman drew the visitors even.
The loss drops Vancouver to 17-18-2-2 and 38 points through 39 games.
The players know that the team needs to start getting some positive results with only 29 games to go in the regular season.
“This is the start of the season, the (trade) deadline is over … we really have to start buying in and winning some games,” Nielsen said. “The second half is all about results. We have to figure out a way to get the team to win, I have to figure something out to help us win.”
AHEAD OF SATURDAY’S GAME
Vancouver make two moves prior to Friday’s WHL trade deadlines, acquiring Kaden Kohle and Eric Florchuk. Both players made their home debut on Friday with Florchuk picking up a pair of assists while Kohle had one helper.
Captain Alex Kannok Leipert had three assists in Saturday’s loss.
Final shots on goal were 32 apiece for the teams.
Both teams were missing their star defencemen as Vancouver’s Bowen Byram and Spokane’s Ty Smith sat out the game. Neither has returned to their respective team after helping Canada win gold in the Czech Republic at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
The Giants are now off until Friday when they host the Victoria Royals at Langley Events Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m. It is one of three games for Vancouver that weekend as they travel to Victoria the next night before returning to Langley to face Kamloops on Sunday at 4 p.m.
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