The Vancouver Giants are on pace for their first 100-point season in 10 years.
The Giants hit the quarter-mark with a record of 12-3-2-0 thanks to a gritty 2-1 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre.
It’s the team’s best start since 2008/09, when they rocketed out of the gates with a 14-0-0-3 start on the way to a 119-point season (the Western Hockey League schedule was 72 games then, but has now dropped to 68 games).
Milos Roman scored in the first period while Yannik Valenti scored the eventual game-winner in the second while David Tendeck made 29 saves.
The lone puck to elude the goaltender was a power-play snipe from Zane Franklin.
“It was a gritty game, a hard-fought physical game,” said Vancouver coach Michael Dyck. “They put some heat on at the end (but) I thought we did a good job of defending for the most part.”
It was also a great bounce back game for Tendeck, who was pulled in his last start after allowing four goals on a dozen shots the previous Saturday night.
Tendeck was solid all game but was at his best in the third period when he made 14 of his 29 saves.
The Blazers entered the game 4-1-1-0 in their previous six contests, after getting just two wins in their first eight games (2-5-0-1). Kamloops is now 6-7-1-1 on the season, a dozen points back of Vancouver.
“Kamloops has a big, tenacious team and we went nose-to-nose with them and came out on top,” said Giants defenceman Bowen Byram, who finished with an assist on Roman’s first-period goal.
The game also marked the debut of new forward Tristen Nielsen, who finished with an assist on the game-winner. Nielsen was second on the team with five shots on goal. He left a good first impression on his new coach.
“He gave us exactly what we need. He is the type of guy that can generate some speed off the rush. He is physical, he finishes his checks, he shoots the puck hard and he gets it away quick,” Dyck said.
“He makes us harder and we still think he will create some offence.”
The Giants are now off until the weekend when they host the Prince George Cougars for a pair of games, Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m., and then the following afternoon – Sunday, Nov. 11 – for a 2 p.m. matinee.