There will be a Game 6.
The Vancouver Giants staved off elimination with a tight 4-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders.
The Giants knew for sure that it was their last game of the season at home regardless of the result, but were fighting to make sure it wasn’t their last all together.
Game 5 got off to a quick start with what was likely the fastest pace of play between both teams all series.
At the 7:42 mark of the game Brayden Watts got the 5033 in attendance, the largest since the team moved to the Langley Events Centre, on their feet when he pounced on a juicy rebound from a Tristen Nielsen snapshot for his seventh of the playoffs to give the Giants the 1-0 lead.
With the Giants scoring first, it continued the trend of the team that opens the scoring ends up winning the hockey game in this series.
Coach Michael Dyck commented on if it was big to get the first goal: “We were prepared either way, whether we were going to score first or they were. Obviously getting the crowd into it early gave us a lot of energy and momentum.”
2019 NHL Draft prospect Bowen Byram echoed his coach’s words: “The first goal has been huge throughout the series, to get that tonight definitely added confidence to the group but we were ready to play from the start no matter who scored first, I think we showed a lot of character tonight with facing elimination for the first time.”
Prince Albert didn’t waste much time getting that Watts goal back when just three minutes later import forward and 2019 NHL Draft prospect Aliaksei Protas got his twelfth of these playoffs, just beating Tendeck blocker side, good for second in playoff goal scoring behind teammate Dante Hannoun who has 13.
The score was tied at one after 20 minutes.
The second period saw the game’s remaining five goals scored with three from the Giants and two from the Raiders.
Prince Albert kicked off the scoring early to take their only lead of the hockey game when David Tendeck misplayed the puck behind his net to Brett Leason, who is now tied for first in playoff scoring with Bowen Byram, found Dante Hannoun in front and the veteran made no mistake for his thirteenth of the postseason.
The Giants continued doing what they have done all throughout these playoffs — being able to answer back quick and in bunches, scoring their final three goals in just over seven minutes.
“It’s pretty special. Once you get one in you kind of believe, your team kind of gets going there and the energy on the bench is unbelievable. One guy gets a goal and everyone on the bench gets super excited and that’s how it’s been all year, we get one and we start to rattle off more. It’s nice to have.” Dylan Plouffe had to say about being able to score goals in quick succession.
Bowen Byram tied the game back up just 50 seconds after the Hannoun goal, taking a nice feed from Jadon Joseph and wristing one past Ian Scott’s blocker.
Vancouver started buzzing from big crowd, playing the game that their fans are much more used to seeing than games previous. The home team was finally starting to get that puck luck and the bounces to go their way after not being able to solve Ian Scott in two of the four previous games in the series.
In the middle of the period, the Giants got goals from two veteran players less than two minutes apart with them coming from Davis Koch and Dylan Plouffe. The 3-2 goal was Koch’s first goal since game one of the second round, but has put up seven assists in that span. The overager from White Rock has 19 points, 16 of them being assists, in the team’s 20 playoff games.
Plouffe’s goal turned out to be the game winner due to the Raiders scoring a goal late in the period, it coming from Noah Gregor.
The final period of the season at the LEC saw no goals. It did see the Giants hold off the best offence in the WHL all year with tight checking and crucial shot blocks in the Raiders’ last minute pressure with the extra attacker.
The atmosphere throughout the period was the perfect send off, as they head to Prince Albert, for a team that has been a treat to watch since the start of the season. The home crowd only saw a staggering 14 losses at the Langley Events Centre between regular season and playoffs and have made their arena one of the loudest in the league as the year went on.
Coach Dyck praised the fans for their support all year: “It was awesome. It just built all year long from the start of the season right through…until after Christmas when we really got on a roll. We could start to sense the building getting fuller every night and getting louder and in playoffs right from the first round to this one here just more and more momentum and energy. We really appreciate it, its been an awesome year here and we wanted to go out on a positive and give them something to cheer about.”
— Stephen Hawco (@stephenhawco7) May 11, 2019
Game 6 goes Sunday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert with puck drop at 5pm PST.