For the first time in three seasons, someone not named Bowen Byram sent the teddys flying.
The Vancouver Giants displayed a dominant performance in the franchise’s first ever game at Rogers Arena, leaving with a 4-1 victory while outshooting the Tri-City Americans 53-26 in the process.
“I liked our depth. I liked our start. I liked our third period,” coach Michael Dyck said postgame.
Just 4:04 into the game, import forward Michal Kvasnica snapped a well placed shot over Americans goaltender Beck Warm for his first goal as a Vancouver Giant. He is the first import in team history to score the marquee goal.
“I’m feeling very good because we won the game.” said Kvasnica, who spent last season with the Portland Winterhawks. “It’s a big dream for me scoring in an arena like that. There were a lot of people so it was fantastic.”
A lot of people there were — 8,938 to be exact — compared to the Giants’ standard 3,800-4,200 that make it out to the Langley Events Centre each game.
The Americans came into Sunday’s matchup on the tail end of a back-to-back that saw them play down in Spokane the night before, losing 4-3.
The combination of a late night bus trip, a wait at the border, and an early evening game made for a tired squad, which is currently in a wild card race with these same Giants.
Vancouver capitalized on the tired Americans. More specifically, the new guys did.
Each of the Giants’ four goals came off the stick of players yet to score in a Vancouver uniform going into the night.
Along with Kvasnica, Connor Horning, who wasn’t the ‘new guy’ for long, released a snapshot from the point that beat Warm clean for his third goal of the season and also stood up as the game winner.
From there, Tyler Preziuso, one of two Giants making their debuts (Trevor Longo the other) took over offensively for the Giants — exactly what he was brought in to do.
Preziuso, who was just acquired the day prior, scored the final two goals for Vancouver in the third period. The second marker came on the man advantage, giving goals in consecutive games to one of the league’s most struggling power plays.
“I felt I got better as the game went on,” the WHL’s leader in games played amongst current players said. “I felt very comfortable with Nielsen and Michal out there so I’m happy to be with them.”
Preziuso and Longo didn’t have much time to learn systems and such, having arrived late last night after two flights.
“They haven’t had a chance to practice — just had a quick tutorial on everything — but they’re good enough players that they were able to adapt,” Dyck said, commending his two newest players for their seamless transitions.
Longo and Preziuso were both acquired, along with a pair of picks that included a 2020 first rounder, for fifth-year Giant Dylan Plouffe and Lukas Svejkovsky, who had been at home awaiting a trade.
Dyck felt the moves were something that were needed for the Giants to break out of their struggles.
“We needed to shake up our chemistry. Our chemistry wasn’t right but it’s starting to feel right now.”
The Giants are off until Saturday when they make the trip down to face the Western Conference leading Everett Silvertips for their second meeting of the season….Everett won the first game 3-2 back in October….The five full days off of games comes at a crucial time with all the new faces in the lineup, giving them time to gain some chemistry and learn the systems.