The Vancouver Giants gave their supporters the ‘Royal’ treatment Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
Coming off a 5-4 overtime loss on the road to the Kelowna Rockets the night before, the G-Men had a mammoth challenge ahead of them in the powerhouse Victoria Royals.
They responded by playing a textbook home game to upset the visitors 4-1 in front of 3,474 fans.
“The one thing we preach all year is speed and skill is our game, and that was what we used tonight,” said Giants defenceman Dylan Plouffe, who assisted on three of his team’s four goals. “That team (the Royals) is a top team in our division and we didn’t let anything bother us. We just kept going with our path and it was good to see. The whole game felt good for us.”
Giants head coach Jason McKee said his troops “gutted it out” to earn the win, but was quick to applaud the outstanding play of goaltender David Tendeck who made 36 saves and was deservedly named the game’s first star.
“Our goaltending was fantastic and that was the difference,” McKee said. “They created some pretty good chances at times but Dave was up to the task.”
McKee added, “We got some timely scoring and we found a way to win a hockey game and I think that’s huge for our group going forward against a very good team.”
The Royals entered the game with a B.C. Division-leading 14-5-1 record, but the Giants had a fighting chance against them as four of Victoria’s five losses thus far came on the road.
Now, make it five road losses for the Royals.
The teams know each other well. This was the fifth time in 19 games the B.C. Division rivals have met with the Royals having won the four previous matchups.
Vancouver drew first blood at the 13:03 mark of the opening frame when, off a broken play, right winger Ty Ronning swiped in a loose puck past Royals’ goaltender Griffen Outhouse for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
But the Royals evened the score two minutes and five seconds later with a goal off the stick of rookie left winger Igor Martynov.
The Giants jumped ahead 2-1 at the 11:47 mark of the second period when centre James Malm made a quick turn off the end boards and snapped a wrister past Royals goalie Griffen Outhouse on a Vancouver power play.
The Giants had a great opportunity to add to their lead when defenceman Ralph Jarratt was assessed a four minute minor for boarding 1:09 into the third period.
And three-and-a-half minutes into that penalty, the Giants scored that crucial third goal they were looking for, as Brad Morrison jumped on a rebound a Ronning one-timer, and beat Outhouse stick side to make it 3-1.
Not long after that, Tendeck kept it a 3-1 game with a crucial glove save off the Royals’ Regan Nagy in tight.
Ronning had a chance to make if 4-1 in the final five minutes when he took a beautiful breakout feed from Morrison and rang a wrist shot off the crossbar.
He did make it 4-1 by potting an empty netter with 9.1 seconds to go in the contest, for his second of the game.
The Giants have little time to celebrate. The G-Men are right back at it Sunday afternoon when they host the Edmonton Oil Kings. Game time is 4 p.m. at the LEC.
McKee said the Giants will be ready for the Oil Kings as they wrap a three games in three days weekend.
“It’s part of junior hockey,” he said. “They’re young guys and that’s why they train all summer and why we practice fast and hard, so they are prepared for it. We can’t use that as an excuse.”