The Vancouver Giants are off to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2010 with their second-round sweep of the Victoria Royals.
The matchup was a rematch of last year’s first-round series which Victoria won despite the Giants leading the series three games to two at one point. This year’s series was a lot closer than the shot totals and other series stats showed, with two of the four games going to overtime.
Vancouver opened the series by shutting out Victoria 3-0 in Game 1 with goals coming from Davis Koch, captain Jared Dmytriw, and an empty netter from Dawson Holt. The Giants allowed just 15 shots to their 28, a misleading number with Victoria having about double the shot attempts but Vancouver filling the lanes and blocking shots, a big theme of this series.
Game 2 was the first of two consecutive overtime games with the Giants taking it 2-1 off a winning goal from Tristen Nielsen for his third of the playoffs. The Royals had just 10 shots in over 63 minutes of hockey, while still managing a goal from overage defenceman Ralph Jarratt. Royals goalie Griffen Outhouse stopped 37 of 39 shots, who did everything but score goals for his team during the series. Game 2 had its share of rough stuff with Royals forward Jake Kustra receiving a five minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct, resulting in a two-game suspension, effectively ending his season. On the Giants side, the team was fined $750.00 for “actions of player at the end of the game” when Alex Kannok-Leipert left the bench to engage with a Royals player during their overtime goal celebration. The play earned him a roughing minor and a game misconduct.
Both Justin Sourdif and Alex Kannok-Leipert came off the bench to celebrate and engaged two Royals behind the net after the game was over. Will be interesting to see whether we see any fines or something more from that. https://t.co/hZOQzkIDr6
— Brandon Rivers (@BriversWHL) April 7, 2019
The first game in Victoria was exciting for fans to watch with nine goals being scored, three more than the first two games combined. It was a game of resiliency for the Giants as the Royals held the lead on three different occasions, answering back every time. Nanaimo native Owen Hardy had a breakout game with two goals and an assist, including the overtime winner 13:34 in the extra frame. Jared Dmytriw, Milos Roman, and Alex Kannok-Leipert rounded out the scoring for Vancouver to give them a 3-0 stranglehold on the series.
Vancouver showed they had no plans to bring the series back to Langley with a decisive 6-1 victory to close out the series to move onto the Western Conference Final. 2019 NHL Draft prospect Bowen Byram scored the series-clinching goal at 16:19 of the first period, staying in the battle behind the net to put a well-placed shot past Outhouse.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) April 12, 2019
Captain Jared Dmytriw led the way with a goal and two assists in the clinching game against his former club, who was one of the best players in the series. Lukas Svejkovsky and Brayden Watts each had a goal and an assist while Dallas Hines and Owen Hardy rounded out the scoring for the Giants in Game 4.
The Giants will take on the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Conference Final after the Chiefs eliminated Everett in five games. The series is set to start in Langley with Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday.
Stay tuned for a series preview leading up to Friday.
- Jared Dmytriw led the Giants with six points (3G, 3A) in four games
- Bowen Byram had five points (1G, 4A).
- Davis Koch, Dawson Holt, Tristen Neilsen, and Owen Hardy all had four points in four games.
- Davis Koch’s 14 points (2G, 12A) and Bowen Byram’s 13 points (4G, 9A) are top two in WHL Playoff scoring.
- Bowen Byram and Dylan Plouffe are tied for the league lead in defencemen playoff goals with four.
- For the second straight series, David Tendeck and Trent Miner split the goaltending duties with two wins each.
- This is the first Western Conference Final appearance for the Giants since 2010 when they lost in six games to Tri-City.
- Also in 2010, was the last series sweep for Vancouver when they swept Kamloops in the first round.