In terms of their performance, it was night and day compared to 24 hours earlier.
The Vancouver Giants were engaged physically – without crossing the line and taking a steady stream to the penalty box – traded scoring chances and received great goaltending.
But the end result was the same as game three: a Giants defeat which now puts them on the brink of elimination in the Rogers WHL championship series as the Prince Albert Raiders enjoy a commanding three games to one lead.
Following a great scoring chance at one end of the ice, the Raiders transitioned the puck the other way, with Brett Leason staring down Giants goaltender David Tendeck from the Vancouver blue-line and in.
With Tendeck out challenging, Leason placed a shot blocker side and while the goaltender got a piece, the puck squirted through and over the goal-line. It came at 4:21 of the third period and was the only goal on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre as Prince Albert took game four by that 1-0 score.
The goal was Leason’s 10th of the WHL post-season, giving the Raiders the luxury of sporting four players with double digits in goals. By comparison, no Giant player has more than captain Jared Dmytriw’s eight.
Combined with the Raiders 8-2 victory in game three, Prince Albert has won the last three games of the series and can win the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Friday night at Langley Events Centre.
Should the Giants stave off elimination, the Raiders will get two more cracks on home ice as the series would shift back to the Art Hausner Centre in Saskatchewan for Game 6 and 7, if necessary.
“We went toe-to-toe with them today and that is what it comes down to, it comes down to a bounce here or a break there and you have to capitalize on your opportunities,” said Giants coach Michael Dyck.
“They capitalized on the chance they had but we had numerous chances but the puck just didn’t bounce the right way for us.”
Those feelings were echoed by his counterpart, Prince Albert coach Marc Habscheid.
“There was not much between the teams tonight. They had a breakaway, they didn’t score, (Leason) had a breakaway and he scored, that’s the difference,” he said. “It’s not like one team played terrible and the other team played outstanding.”
Wednesday’s game was what hockey fans were expecting when the teams returned to Langley following the teams splitting games one and two in Prince Albert, with Vancouver winning game one 5-4 before the Raiders responded with a 4-0 win the following night.
But since the third period of game one, Raiders goaltender Ian Scott has been impenetrable, with a pair of shutouts in games two and four and just two goals allowed over the last 10 periods of hockey, sporting a 0.60 goals against average and a .978 save percentage.
And Scott was full value for his fifth shutout (which puts him one back of former Giants goaltender Dustin Slade’s WHL record of six). He got a piece of Davis Koch’s breakaway attempt short-handed late in the first period, made a great pad save on Jadon Joseph early in the third period with the game still
scoreless and then a glove save on Alex Kannok Leipert with 7:36 remaining.
On that save, Bowen Byram sent a cross-ice pass and Kannok Leipert seemed to have a wide-open net to shoot at, but the Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, slid across and snared the puck with his glove hand to preserve his team’s lead.
For the first time in the 2019 playoffs, the Vancouver Giants are facing elimination. But it’s not over yet.
Game 5 has a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at Langley Events Centre on Friday. Tickets available online.
BY THE NUMBERS:
• Final score: Prince Albert 1 – Vancouver 0
• Final shots: 36-26 Vancouver
• One game after the team’s received eight power-play opportunities apiece, there were just three total man-advantage opportunities in game four with Prince Albert going 0-for-2 and Vancouver 0-for-1.
• The final shots on goal were 36-26 for the Giants.
• The team, which has opened the scoring, has won all four games.
• Attendance was 4,626
• David Tendeck: 25/26 saves for Vancouver (9-4)
• Ian Scott: 36/36 saves for Prince Albert (15-5)
• Vancouver: 0/1 on the Power Play
• Prince Albert: 0/2 on the Power Play
• 3 Stars: 1) Ian Scott (PA – 36 saves); 2) David Tendeck (VAN – 25 saves); and 3) Milos Roman (VAN – 3 SOG)
• Dylan Plouffe and Davis Koch led the Giants with four shots on goal apiece on Wednesday night.
• Raiders forward Brett Leason has now notched seven goals in his past seven games to go along with three assists for 10 points. He’s recorded at least one point in all seven of those games.
• The Vancouver Giants are 2-0 in their previous Game 5’s that they’ve played in during the 2019 WHL playoffs.