Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre the Vancouver Giants (13-13-2-2) defeated the Western Conference leading Portland Winterhawks (20-6-0-1) by a 5-3 score. Owen Hardy paced the Giants attack with two goals and an assist while James Malm and Tyler Benson each had two points. Between the pipes David Tendeck was outstanding for the G-Men turning aside 43 of the 46 shots fired his way to earn his eighth win of the season. Joachim Blichfeld responded with a goal and an assist for the Winterhawks who dropped just their second road game of the season.
While shorthanded, Owen Hardy got the offense started for the Giants at the 9:16 mark of the first period. Dawson Holt beat the Winterhawk defender wide down the right wing and centered a pass for Hardy. Hardy outwaited Winterhawks starter Cole Kehler and snuck home a backhander for his sixth of the season and his first of two goals in the period.
Hardy extended Vancouver’s lead to 2-0 at 18:30 of the first off an individual effort off a faceoff. From the right-wing faceoff circle, Hardy trapped the puck between his feet, shoved off the Portland defender and snuck a quick shot under the arm of Kehler. The G-Men led by two goals despite being outshot 14-6 in the first period.
Territorially the Giants controlled much of the second period, but Cole Kehler kept the Winterhawks within striking distance thanks to some timely saves. The only goal of the middle frame came courtesy of the Winterhawks on a power play when Vegas Golden Knights top prospect Cody Glass wired home his 20th of the season from the right circle off a pass from Joachim Blichfeld.
When leading after two periods the Giants were 9-0 heading into Tuesday night, and improved upon that mark thanks to some timely offense and goaltending in the third. Aidan Barfoot gave the Giants a 3-1 cushion when he knocked home his third of the season off a two-on-one rush with James Malm at 6:11 of the third. James Malm then got in on the goal-scoring act himself at the 8:42 mark when he parked himself in front of the goal and tucked home his 13th off a slick feed from Tyler Benson.
Mike Johnston’s Portland Winterhawks weren’t about to go quietly into the night. 20-year-old Alex Overhardt kick-started the Winterhawks comeback bid at 11:24 on a power play. Then at 15:28 Joachim Blichfeld wired home his 11th of the season off the rush from the left-wing circle. A 4-1 lead was now a 4-3 advantage for the Giants with 4:32 remaining in the third.
Giants head coach Jason McKee called a timeout, and his troops responded brilliantly. Just 12 seconds after the puck had dropped, Tyler Benson set up Ty Ronning for a tap-in goal off the rush that pushed the Giants lead back to two goals. That 5-3 score would stand as the final despite some late attempts by the Winterhawks with their net empty.
Final shots on goal favored Portland 46-38. The Giants power play went zero-for-two, but looked strong on both attempts. Portland’s power play went two-for-four but they did surrender their first shorthanded goal against this season in the first period.
With the victory the Giants improved to 8-6 at home and 13-13-2-2 on the season. Their victory gives them a four-point cushion on both the Prince George Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers for third place in the B.C. Division standings. The Giants won’t have to wait long to face the Winterhawks again as these two teams will clash in Portland Friday night at 7:05 PM at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, OR.
- David Tendeck’s 43 saves matched his previous season high for saves in a victory (September 29th at home against Kamloops).
- Tyler Benson has now recorded eight multi-point games in 17 games played this season. He’s got 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points so far this season.
- Six of James Malm’s 13 goals this season have been game winners.