The Vancouver Giants are off to their first WHL Final since 2007.
The Giants won a hard fought Game 5 with a 3-2 win Friday night in front of a crowd of 4886 at the Langley Events Centre.
Bowen Byram kicked everything off with the WHL Highlight of the Night, and possibly the week, with an end-to-end shorthanded goal to open the scoring and getting the fans into it.
🎥 #WHLPlayoffs Highlight of the Night 🎥
April 26, 2019
— The WHL (@TheWHL) April 27, 2019
“I got a bounce there in our own end, on a short break shorthanded. I just cut back, got it on net and managed to find its way in.”, Byram described his goal.
It was the 2019 NHL Draft prospect’s seventh goal of the playoffs and with adding an assist, overtook teammate Davis Koch for the WHL lead in playoff scoring with 18 points in 15 games.
On the Giants’ second of four powerplays on the night, rookie forward Justin Sourdif extended the lead to two, with a Dylan Plouffe shot bouncing off of him in front of the net for his second of the postseason in the last minute of the opening frame.
The second period went scoreless, with shots being 12-7 in favour of the Chiefs. David Tendeck was the star of the period and has been lights out since being given the net full-time after splitting the first two rounds with Trent Miner.
“When we started the season, we always knew that David was going to be our starter. He’s 19 years old, he’s drafted, he’s ready to become a pro.” said head coach Michael Dyck.
Dyck also commented saying it was nice to have two starters, but always wanted to hand the net over to one, “Trent was going to learn, but he (Miner) stepped up and it was a nice luxury to have two starting goaltenders. But as David started the series, and the series went through, we always wanted to give the ball to someone and he took it.”
Spokane showed they weren’t going down without a fight, scoring their first power-play goal of the series courtesy of LA Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan who slid one through Tendeck’s legs and it just squeezed over the line to cut the lead in half.
The Giants got the momentum back almost immediately, when Brayden Watts scored his fifth of the playoffs just 21 seconds later to continue the resiliency this team has shown throughout the series.
“When we got that 3-1 goal it was great to see. We’re a team that’s bounced back a lot from deficits like in Game 2 and Game 3, it’s just the identity of our team. We never quit.” Dylan Plouffe said about the eventual series clinching goal.
The two-goal lead stood for the majority of the period until the Chiefs, with the extra attacker from pulling Bailey Brkin, came up with a late goal from Ethan McIndoe with just 1:47 left in regulation to make for a dramatic finish for the fans to enjoy at the LEC.
Vancouver had a few key shot blocks in the final seconds as the Chiefs continued to press right until the final buzzer.
— Stephen Hawco (@stephenhawco7) April 27, 2019
You could feel the exhale from the Giants faithful when the buzzer went, and the anxiety turned to joy as they watched their team celebrate the first Western Conference championship in 12 years.
The Giants now await the winner of Prince Albert and Edmonton’s series, where the Raiders lead three games to two as this is being written.
Stay tuned for a series recap and a WHL Final preview in the coming days.
- Import forward Yannik Valenti left the game with what looked to be a lower-body injury and did not return to the game.