A hockey game at Langley Events Centre Tuesday night broke records.
Tuesday night in Langley the Vancouver Giants set a new single-game franchise record with 71 shots on goal, and earned a 6-2 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos in the process.
By the way, the most shots ever in a WHL, 85, came back in 1979 by the Brandon Wheat Kings in a 14-4 upset against the Regina Pats.
And this wasn’t the only record recently shattered by the Giants. This past weekend they shot for another unexpected record, when they hosted Kamloops for one of the longest games in the team’s history – it went into overtime and ultimately a 13-player shootout.
Anyway, focused back on Tuesday night’s game, playing their fourth game in five nights and against an opponent at the opposite end of the standings, the Langley-based Giants had their foot on the gas pedal from start to finish.
The result was a club record for shots on goal and more importantly, the victory over the Broncos.
Vancouver hosted the defending Western Hockey League champions – albeit a team in the rebuilding stage.
The Giants peppered Broncos goaltender Joel Hofer with a new team record 71 shots (26 in the first period, 20 more in the second and then 25 over the final 20 minutes) as they won for the seventh time in the past eight games. And the team also picked up a point in that lone blemish, as they lead the WHL’s Western Conference with a blistering 9-1-1-0 record.
And unlike Vancouver’s last home contest where coach Michael Dyck said there were “too many passengers” that night, Tuesday’s performance left him pleased.
“We played very well. Our focus was going to be on finishing four and five strong and I thought we did that,” he said.
“We could have tried to do too much individually and thought maybe it was a ‘point night’ but didn’t. We stuck with the game plan for the most part and kept it simple and got a lot of pucks on net.”
The coach went on to say: “This is the second game in a row that we have had a pretty consistent effort with how we want to play.”
The Giants also dominated on the shot clock as they doubled up the previously unbeaten Victoria Royals 40-20 in shots in a 3-2 win on Sunday.
“It is all about possession and not overcomplicating things in the offensive zone,” Dyck explained.
Against Swift Current, Bowen Byram opened the scoring with a power-play goal five minutes, walking in from the point and having his shot squeeze through Hofer. Eight minutes later, Dawson Holt doubled the lead, converting a back-hander on a great give-and-go with Brayden Watts.
Byram tallied his second of the night early in the second period, this time scoring on a wraparound. The Broncos Tanner Nagel got the visitors on the board less than four minutes later, beating two Giant defenders and then slipping the puck past David Tendeck.
The score remained 3-1 until the third period when Davis Koch beat Hofer with a snap shot from the face-off circle and after the Broncos took a pair of major penalties with eight minutes to go – Matthew Stanley for jumping Milos Roman in a one-man fight and then less than a minute later as Alec Zawatsky was assed five minutes for a cross-check to Byram’s face – Vancouver made them pay with power-play goals from Dylan Plouffe and Alex Kannok Leipert.
Swift Current’s Ben King closed out the scoring with a deflection in the final minute.
Vancouver’s power play finished an impressive 3-for-7, jumping from 14th in the league (20.6 per cent) to eighth (24.4 per cent).
And while no coach likes to see his players take sticks or punches to their faces, an effective power play will be the best deterrent for the opposition.
“That is why we have to have a good power play, that has to be our retribution.”
Entering the game, only four of Vancouver’s 32 goals came from defencemen, but the team’s blue-liners had four of the six in the victory.
Byram led the way with two goals and an assist, while both Plouffe and Kannok Leipert struck for their first tallies of the season.
Dyck was not surprised they were able to contribute.
“They are mobile and they get pucks to the net so we know they are going to be a big part of our offence,” he said. “We have to do this by committee, strength in numbers.”
For the forwards, Koch and Holt each had a goal and an assist and James Malm had three helpers. He leads the team with 14 points through 11 games.
Vancouver now gets set for another busy weekend as they play a home-and-home series with the Winterhawks (in Portland on Friday and back at Langley Events Centre on Saturday night) before wrapping up a stretch of seven games in 10 days with a Sunday matinee at LEC versus the Kelowna. Rocket. Puck drops at 4 p.m.
The team does have goaltender Trent Miner back after he missed the previous weekend to attend the funerals of both his grandfathers, who passed away a day apart back in Manitoba.
As for injuries, Dyck said both defencemen Bailey Dhaliwal and Matt Barberis are still week-to-week.
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