August 29, 2012
VANCOUVER, BC – It had razzle, it had dazzle, it had big hits and big saves. It even had a spirited scrap between 2 vets. And even though Coach Don Hay must have been pulling his hair out at times, it also had 9 goals. There was no shortage of entertainment at tonight’s Alumni Challenge intrasquad game, as Team Red (coached by Evander Kane, Spencer Bennett and Paul Albers) defeated Team White (coached by Craig Cunningham and Lance Bouma) by a 5-4 final to officially conclude the Giants 2012 Training Camp.
Giants 2012 Import Draft pick Ales Kilnar looked impressive once again today (1G, 2A), as he opened the scoring for Red at 10:27 of the 1st period. After a scramble off the face-off, he found the puck in the slot and went 5-hole on Liam Liston to give Red the lead. 6 minutes later though, Nathan Burns was able to respond for Team White on the power play, tying things up at 16:32 by banging home a rebound at the side of the net past Jackson Whistle. The first period ended in a 1-1 tie with White outshooting Red 10-7.
*The 1st intermission had Red Alumni Coaches Evander Kane, Spencer Bennett and Paul Albers sign autographs for the fans
The 2nd period saw the game open up a bit, a foreshadow of what was to come in the 3rd. After a scoreless half period, Jackson Whistle was replaced by Tyler Fuhr between the pipes for Red, while Payton Lee continued in the crease for Team White (White had 3 goalies, so they each played 1 period, Red had 2 goalies, so they each played half a game).
The goals in the 2nd came fast and furious; in fact 3 of them in 3 and a half minutes. First it was Matt Grant with a nifty toe-drag move and a perfect shot high blocker to give Red a 2-1 lead at 11:27. Red would increase their lead on a gorgeous 3-way passing play, tic-tac-toe between Ales Kilnar, Jordan Martinook and Jackson Houck, who finished it off at 13:55 to give Red a 3-1 lead. But it was exactly 1 minute later when White responded. They were shorthanded and could have gone down by 3, but Dalton Sward found himself on a breakaway and finished it off with a perfectly aimed shot high glove side, and at 14:55, it was a one goal game again with Red up 3-2.
That is how the 2nd period would end, with shots dead even in the middle frame at 14 apiece.
*The 2nd intermission had White Alumni Coaches Craig Cunningham and Lance Bouma sign autographs for the fans
And then there was the 3rd… oh the 3rd. Angus Redmond took over between the pipes for Team White, while Tyler Fuhr continued in net for Team Red. At 6:05 of the final frame, veteran dman John Neibrandt finished off a goal-mouth scramble and tied the game at 3 for White. But just as White was gaining momentum, and Angus Redmond was looking like a stud between the pipes (one of the most pleasant surprises of camp), he showed a moment of weakness when Riley Kieser caught him off-guard with a sharp-angled shot from the bottom of the left circle that trickled in through his legs. At 11:18, Red re-took the lead at 4-3.
Not surprising, this game got more and more intense as it progressed. More shoving, more scrums, and more choice words were exchanged. This culminated in a pretty heated scrum at 13:37, resulting in a scrap between last year’s teammates Kiefer McNaughton of White and Scott Cooke of Red. McNaughton got the take-down in this one, but both guys landed some heavy blows it seemed. (CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT)
After a lengthy delay to figure out the penalties on the play, Team White was giving the extra 2 minutes and Red wound up on the power play. However, White broke through again with their 2nd shorthanded goal of the contest. And this was a sheer beauty. Cain Franson went through 2 defensemen before beating Fuhr through the legs to tie the game at 4 at the 13:37 mark. But once again, that momentum was short-lived. On the same power play, in the dying seconds, Blake Orban took a cross-ice pass in the right circle and fired one high on Redmond before he could get across, restoring Red’s lead at 5-4. This time, despite a solid push from White in the final minutes, it was a lead the Red team would not relinquish.
The shots in the 3rd period wound up favouring the Red side 14-9. Overall, Red outshot White 35-33.
As for the goaltenders, Jackson Whistle had a solid half-game for Red, stopping 16 of 17 shots in 29:19 of work. Meanwhile his teammate Tyler Fuhr was not as lucky. In 30:21 of playing time, he surrendered 3 goals on 16 shots, though he did earn the “W”.
For the White team, every goalie wound up with an identical save percentage of .857%. In the 1st period, Liam Liston turned aside 6 of 7 shots. In the 2nd period, Payton Lee stopped 12 of 14 shots, and ditto for Angus Redmond in the 3rd frame.
After the game, it was actually the winning team, Team Red that lost 2 of its members. 15-year old defensive prospect Jared Coghill (6th round pick this year) was one of the players released, after he joined the camp late following a baseball tournament. He was the last 15 year old at camp. The other release was 16-year-old Landon Gross, who made quite an impression during his time here, and might have a bright future with the team as soon as next year.
This now leaves the Giants with 32 players heading into the pre-season, plus the injured Matt Bellerive and Taylor Makin, and the still-missing (in Slovakia) Marek Tvrdon. That brings the total number of players left up to 35.
The Giants will have fitness testing for those players that are left on Thursday, ahead of their first pre-season game Friday night at 7pm vs the Kelowna Rockets at the Ladner Leisure Centre.