In a Friday, March 26, 2021 season opener game in Kamloops, against the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants fell 7-3. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)

In a Friday, March 26, 2021 season opener game in Kamloops, against the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants fell 7-3. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop season opener to Blazers

After losing 7-3 to Kamloops, the Langley-based G-Men take on Kelowna this Sunday

First time on the ice for a competitive matchup in more than a year, the Vancouver Giants fell to the Kamloops Blazers. But they’re hoping to redeem themselves when they go head-to-head with the Kelowna Rockets Sunday.

Friday evening at the Sandman Centre – home ice for the Kamloops Blazers and home to – the Langley-based Giants dropped 7-3. Not how they were hoping to start their 20th (albeit modified) season of WHL play.

RELATED: Langley-based Giants let Kannok Leipert keep the ‘C’

The Giants and four other B.C. teams are playing in a hockey bubble or what WHL is calling hub centres set up in Kamloops and Kelowna. The B.C. division is comprised of the Giants, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals.

Each team will play a 24-game schedule.

RELATED: Vancouver Giants release roster for ‘hub’ series

This marked the first WHL regular season game in 384 days for the G-Men.

In Friday night’s play, Matthew Seminoff and Connor Levis each scored twice for Kamloops while captain Connor Zary finished with three assists. Meanwhile, Giant’s Tristen Nielsen responded with a goal and an assist for Vancouver, while Eric Florchuk and Bryce Bader also supplied goals.

Bader has now scored a goal in four consecutive WHL games dating back to Dec. 16, 2018. He finished with a team-high four shots on goal.

Also of note, Giants defenceman Marko Stacha suited up in his first career WHL game and earned an assist on Bader’s third period goal. He finished with a +2 rating.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS

“Usually a team takes 20-25 games to form its identity, but with this season being shortened we have to make sure we magnify that as fast as possible,” said associate coach Keith McCambridge.

The Giants play against the Rockets in Kelowna on Sunday, starting at 6 p.m.

WHL fans can watch all 60 games from the RE/MAX Hub Centres on WHL Live on CHL TV by visiting watch.CHL.ca.

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BY THE NUMBERS (by Giants play-by-play broadcaster)

1st period:

KAM – 31 seconds into the game, over-age defenceman Montana Onyebuchi staked the home side to an early 1-0 lead off the rush. Connor Zary and Logan Stankoven earned helpers.

KAM – Matthew Seminoff increased the Kamloops lead at 3:08 of the first period off a nifty slot feed from Orrin Centazzo.

KAM – At 13:43 rookie Connor Levis converted on a breakaway to increase the Kamloops lead to 3-0.

VAN – Back came the Giants at 16:08 when their 2019-20 leading scorer Tristen Nielsen slid a backhand shot past Dylan Garand from the right-wing circle. Kaden Kohle did the dirty work behind the net to free the puck out front, and from there Nielsen did the rest to put the G-Men on the board.

KAM – On a late double-minor power play Kamloops made it 4-1 when Logan Stankoven potted his first off a shot from the right-wing circle.

Shots: 11-8 Vancouver

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2nd period:

No Scoring

• Blazers goaltender Dylan Garand made two terrific saves off Giants forward Bryce Bader. Both saves came off odd-man rushes.

• Giants goaltender Drew Sim had a strong bounce back period, stopping all 13 Kamloops shots he faced.

Shots: 13-5 Kamloops

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3rd period:

VAN – 4:04 into the third period Bryce Bader snapped home his first of the season through a screen off a shot from the left wing. The goal came right as a Giants power play had expired. Marko Stacha and Adam Hall both assisted.

KAM – Nine seconds later off the ensuing faceoff, Kamloops restored their three-goal cushion when Connor Levis redirected a pass from Caeden Bankier home.

VAN – Eric Florchuk made it a 5-3 game at 11:13 when he skated into the slot and one-timed home a pass from Tristen Nielsen.

KAM – The Kamloops Blazers answered quickly at 12:27 with Matthew Seminoff’s second goal of the night off a set up from Connor Zary.

KAM – Quinn Schmiemann grabbed the game’s final goal of the night for Kamloops at 12:56 on a backhander from the right-wing circle.

Shots: 6-6

Box Scores

GAME SUMMARY

Final Score: 7–3 Kamloops

Shots On Goal: 27-22 Kamloops

VAN PP: 0/3

KAM PP: 1/4

Drew Sim: 20/27 saves for Vancouver.

Dylan Garand: 19/22 saves for Vancouver.

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3 Stars:

1) Matthew Seminoff (KAM – 2G, 1A)

2) Connor Levis (KAM – 2G)

3) Connor Zary (KAM – 3A)

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Stay tuned for results of Sunday’s game in Kelowna.

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In a Friday, March 26, 2021 season opener game in Kamloops, against the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants fell 7-3. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)

In a Friday, March 26, 2021 season opener game in Kamloops, against the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants fell 7-3. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)

In a Friday, March 26, 2021 season opener game in Kamloops, against the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants fell 7-3. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)

In a Friday, March 26, 2021 season opener game in Kamloops, against the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants fell 7-3. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)

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