The Vancouver Giants were led by their young goaltender Friday night and claimed victory in the first game of the best of seven series against the Victoria Royals. While that may not be surprising in itself given the outstanding play of David Tendeck this season, even more interesting is that it was backup Trent Miner who bolstered the Giants in game one. With Tendeck unable to start the first game due to an upper body injury, the 17-year-old rookie Miner was pushed into duty and came up spectacular with 40 saves.
Trent Miner, the 17-year-old rookie who made 40 saves to lead the @WHLGiants to a 2-1 win over the Victoria Royals to open the best-of-seven WHL playoffs says that he tried to think of it as "just another game."
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) March 24, 2018
In what was predicted to be a close series, that was proved correct in the first game of the series. Along with Miner, Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse made many quality saves, including a couple of his usual acrobatic wonders.
The first period featured some physical play and as well as a little controversy early. Royals forward Dino Kambeitz was crushed crossing in front of the Giants net by Darian Skeoch. While there was no penalty called on the original play, after a referee discussion Skeoch was assessed a five minute penalty and game misconduct. Vancouver coach Jason McKee was visible angry with the call, while the home arena erupted in cheers with the call. Giants coach Jason McKee declined comment to Steve Ewen of Vancouver Province until he looked at game tape, “”I have to watch it,” McKee said.
— WHL Unfiltered (@WHLunfiltered) March 24, 2018
Victoria moved the puck around on their five minute powerplay, trying to find an opportunity to beat goalie Miner. However, the young goaltender was up for the task and the excellent penalty-killing unit of the Giants killed off the major.
Midway through the first, tensions began to rise as after the whistle extras began to come into the game.
A nice stretch pass led to a breakaway for former Royals player Jared Dmytriw, who was hauled down on the way to the net. As a result, a penalty shot was called and on the ensuing attempt, Outhouse made the blocker save to keep the game scoreless.
The first period ended with no score, but plenty of physical fireworks and shot 14-13 in favour of Victoria.
Vancouver opened the scoring in the second period as James Malm made a nice drop pass to the dangerous Ty Ronning who fired a shot on Outhouse. While the Victoria goalie was able to make the save, a clearing attempt by Victoria went right to Milos Roman who made no mistake for a 1-0 Vancouver lead at 5:48.
The period opened up as the play went end to end, with each team having chances while forcing the goalies to come up big. The Royals hit a couple of back-to-back posts, unable to get on the scoreboard.
That luck changed as Tanner Kaspick buried a Miner rebound at 11:36 to tie the game 1-1. Miner made a nice save on a Dante Hannoun shot, but Kaspick was in the right spot near the slot to bury it.
The G-men pulled ahead again, as Brennan Riddle fired a shot towards traffic in front, and Matt Barberis was credited with the goal. The goal by Barberis would eventually stand as the game winner with the final score 2-1.
Victoria tried to equalize and had three excellent short-handed chances on a harried Vancouver powerplay late in the game. Fortunately for the Giants, their 17-year-old netminder continued to stand strong.
Victoria coach Dan Price reflected on the loss, “I don’t think anyone expected it to be over in four. We understand there are going to be ups and downs over the course of a game, and over the course of a series. Sometimes the puck bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t. The key is to be level, to be consistent and keep doing things that you believe will give you success.”
Victoria goal scorer Kaspick and linemate Noah Gregor both had strong games for the Royals, who will look to repeat the effort as both teams renew hostilities Saturday.
Game two of the series sees puck drop at 7:05 pm at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena, with the Giants leading the series 1-0.
- Not quite Ready– Scott Walford and Ralph Jarratt sat out game one as they continued to rest injuries. The Royals are hopeful for both of their returns early in the series.
- Back to Action- forward Lane Zablocki has finished serving his 2 game suspension and will be in the lineup Saturday for game two
- Missing Sniper- Royals forward Tyler Soy missed game one for an undisclosed reason. Victoria will be looking forward to his return.