The Vancouver Giants are up 1-0 in their second round series after beating Victoria 3-0 Friday night in Langley.
Both teams came out of the gate with good pace to start the series between the division rivals with physicality and puck movement.
The only goal of the opening period was the eventual game winning goal, coming off the stick of Davis Koch on the power play, just after a 5-on-3 had expired. The overage forward took a pass from Bowen Byram and made no mistake, deking Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse from a tough angle to put him in the sole lead in WHL playoff scoring.
The Giants got an early power play one minute into the second period, with Royals defenceman Ralph Jarratt going off for roughing. The power play unit flooded Outhouse during the man advantage, including multiple net front scrambles that managed to stay out of the net.
Despite only allowing two shots in the second period, none even strength, coach Michael Dyck felt it wasn’t the team’s best period.
“I still thought they had some pretty good opportunities in the second period but maybe didn’t get credit for their shots but I thought the third period was our best period.”
The lack of shots Trent Miner faced was in large part to the players in front of him getting in lanes and putting the team first by blocking shots, which is huge in the playoffs.
“It’s so important in the playoffs to be able to do that, it’s a sign to everybody that you’re committed to the team because nobody does that for themselves.” Dyck said about the Giants keying in on blocking shots since Game 5 of the Seattle series.
Captain Jared Dmytriw echoed his coach’s comments on blocking shots.
“It’s playoff hockey, everyone is selling out and buying in and that’s the way we need to play if we want to continue in the playoffs and keep winning games.”
Vancouver put the game away in the final period that included two goals, one of which was an empty netter. Both goals came from the Hardy-Dmytriw-Holt line with the Giants captain scoring the insurance goal just under six minutes into the frame off a turnover, going down on a break and roofing one on his backhand to beat his former teammate in Griffen Outhouse.
“They did their job again, they are great down low. They’re a hard line to play against, Dmytriw capitalized on a turnover, Jared (Dmytriw) knows Outhouse pretty well. They’ve played with each other and now against each other.” said Dyck about Dmytriw’s goal and his line.
Dmytriw commented on his goal, saying “I just picked up the puck on a turnover and the seas kind of parted and I went up the middle and kind of blanked out from there.”
19-year-old Dawson Holt scored the empty net goal off a great bounce from the far blue line, that sent the crowd of 4,523 at the Langley Events Centre in a frenzy. It was his second goal of this year’s playoffs for the former first round bantam pick.
The Giants look to continue their success on Saturday night for Game 2 before taking the ferry over to Victoria for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.
- Rookie forward Justin Sourdif made his return in Game 1 after missing the last five games due to an undisclosed injury.
- Giants forward Tristen Nielsen left the game in the second period due to injury and did not return. Coach Dyck could not give an update on his status post game, saying he will be evaluated.
- Davis Koch leads the WHL playoff scoring race with 11 points (2G, 9A) in seven games.
- With two assists, Bowen Byram leads all defenceman in playoff points with 10 points (3G, 7A) in seven games.
- The win marks the first shutout win for the Giants since Game 7 of the 2009 Western Conference Semi-Finals against Spokane which Vancouver won 1-0 in overtime.