The Vancouver Giants have their backs against the wall going into their last home game on Friday until next season.
The Prince Albert Raiders took a commanding 3-1 series lead after winning a tight Game 4 by a score of 1-0.
The Giants came out a completely different team in Game 4 than the previous night, carrying the play for a majority of the opening period. They outshot the Raiders 15-9 in the first period, along with close to that in near misses on net.
“We give Vancouver credit, they came out hard in the start,” Raiders coach Marc Habscheid praised the Giants on their pushback from their Game 3 performance.
The line of Davis Koch–Justin Sourdif–Milos Roman was Vancouver Coach Michael Dyck’s go-to line in the first as the trio was the source of most of the Giants’ possession and momentum to start the game. Justin Sourdif in particular stepped up his game with a great forecheck and poise with the puck, very impressive for a 16-year-old. Import forward and Calgary Flames draft pick Milos Roman also undoubtedly had his best game of this postseason despite being held off the scoresheet.
“Milos played very well. I thought his line generated a lot, we got a lot of great efforts tonight but Roman’s line really stepped up for us,” Dyck said about the line.
The crowd of 4,626 at the Langley Events Centre was alive and loud as their team left the ice for the first intermission after a big penalty kill at the end, where 16 seconds carried over into the second, that gave the Giants some key scoring opportunities, including a breakaway from Davis Koch that was turned aside by Ian Scott, who stopped 36 shots for his fifth shutout of the playoffs.
“In a back and forth game you need your goalie to be there. He stepped up big and made some big saves,” Brett Leason said about his teammate with both the Raiders and the Canadian world junior team.
The Giants continued their pressure throughout the second period, being the better team through the majority of the game.
The difference was the home team could not catch a bounce that wins playoff games. Vancouver had two breakaways from Milos Roman and the previously mentioned one from Davis Koch, but just couldn’t get any puck luck.
“I thought we responded well. Played well enough to win but it just came down to some bounces and they (Prince Albert) capitalized on the chance they had but we had numerous chances but the puck didn’t bounce the right way for us tonight,” Dyck said postgame.
Dyck also credited his team for their response after a tough loss: “To respond after yesterday, it’s what we’ve done all year long. Obviously very proud of the way we responded because it wasn’t an easy situation to be in, it’s a step in the right direction, now we got our backs against the wall and we’ll keep pushing.
The gridlock was finally broken at 4:21 of the third period when Raiders star forward Brett Leason was sprung on a breakaway and was able to just beat David Tendeck under his blocker to extend his point streak to seven games where he has 11 points (7G, 4A) in that span.
The projected first to second round pick in this upcoming draft after going undrafted twice previously commented on his goal: “I just skated as fast as I could to get down there and the goalie came out pretty far so I figured he’d open up his blocker so that’s where I put it.”
Vancouver was able to keep sustained pressure for the most part as the clock ticked down but was just not able to capitalize, something that Giants fans are not accustomed to seeing.
The Giants have a big hill to climb heading into Game 5 on Friday, but have showed their resiliency all season. The atmosphere at the LEC will certainly be boisterous as they will watch their team for the last time on home ice in what has been such a memorable season as they look to give their team a send off for a potential Game 6 in Prince Albert on Sunday.
- The Giants made one lineup change prior to Game 4 as forward Evan Patrician made his series debut in place of Landon Fuller who is a defenceman that was playing forward, potentially to add some size and physicality to the line up. Patrician had played the previous 15 games in the playoffs.
- Prince Albert’s Max Martin missed his second straight game as a result of an injury that happened in Game 2.