The Vancouver Giants (31-19-5-3) sailed across the Straight of Georgia Saturday to face the Victoria Royals (35-21-3-2) for the final meeting of the regular season between these two clubs. In a potential playoff matchup preview, the season series has favoured Victoria who had a 6-3 record versus the Giants coming into tonight’s action tonight. However, Vancouver had won three of the last five meetings against the Royals and clearly were no push-over. Victoria was only three points ahead of the Giants in the division standings going into tonight’s action, with Vancouver having three games in hand.
Victoria welcomed back Griffen Outhouse, who started in net after missing two games with an undisclosed injury. Vancouver was playing the second game of three nights in a row of action, started 17-year-old Trent Miner in goal and gave David Tendeck a rest.
The Royals had a couple great opportunities to score early, in particular a great chance by Matthew Phillips who hit the post with Miner down and out. Halfway though the first period the shots were 13 to 3 for the Royals. Phillips was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down breaking to the net, however was denied a goal after dekeing to the short-side of Miner. Victoria continued the pressure with a solid period of play but were unable to solve the Giants rookie goaltender. A scoreless first period had shots 19 to 3 for the home team Royals.
Early into the second period, the red-hot Ty Ronning opened the scoring at 1:41 with a power play marker. The Giants sniper netted his 52nd of the year while falling down out front, with the backhand shot past Outhouse.
The Royals tied it up 1-1 as Dino Kambeitz went coast-to-coast and then cut in from the side to beat Miner at 11:57. The middle frame was a lot more even between the clubs, as period shots were 15-14 in favour for Vancouver.
The Royals took their first lead of the game as Phillips dug it out from behind the net and fed Tyler Soy out front for the goal at 1:59 of the third period. Play then tightened up between the teams and the game took a playoff feel.
Off a faceoff the Giants were able to control the puck and Brayden Watts took the puck at the top of the circle and fired a shot past Outhouse. The 15th goal of the year for Watts tied the game at 2-2 at 13:15 of the third period.
Soy put Victoria ahead again at 16:06 after digging the puck away from Miner before he was able to smother it. The crowd of 5,816 erupted as Soy celebrated his second goal of the
The Giants would not go easy, as Ronning tied it on a back-door play with 36 seconds to play, scoring his second goal of the game. However before the goal announcement was completed, Kambeitz broke into the Giants zone and beat Miner for his second goal of the game. Kambeitz slide the puck through the five-hole, securing the win with 10 seconds remaining.
The game had a crazy finish where each team exchanged goals in the last minute capped a thrilling division victory for Victoria. If tonight was any indication, the potential playoff matchup of these two teams would prove to be some excellent hockey.
Victoria now has five days off before hosting the Portland Winterhawks for a pair of games starting Friday, Feb.23rd. Vancouver now returns home to face the red hot Red Deer Rebels on Sunday night.
- Stayin’ Alive- Royals captain Matthew Phillips kept his franchise record point scoring streak alive, now at 21 games.
- Healthy Returns- Along with the return of Outhouse, Ralph Jarratt also returned to action after missing two games, delivered couple of big hits and saved a late score with goal-line sweep.
- 300 Strong- Kade Jensen played in his 300th WHL game on Saturday night versus the Giants. The overager has played those games with Lethbridge, Swift Currrent, Brandon and the Royals.