The Vancouver Giants are heading into February on a winning note. Wednesday night at the Langley Events Centre the Giants earned a hard-fought 4-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Ty Ronning paced the Giants attack with two goals while Tyler Benson chimed in with two helpers. Davis Koch and Tyler Popowich also added markers for the Giants while goaltender David Tendeck turned aside 27 of the 28 shots fired his way and was named the game’s first star. Vancouver Canucks prospect Jakob Stukel had Calgary’s lone goal in response. The final shots were 34-28 for Vancouver.
Calgary nearly opened the scoring early in the first period, but David Tendeck lunged to his right and made a spectacular save off Jakob Stukel to keep the game even.
Tendeck’s teammates rewarded his early heroics with the game’s first goal at 9:59. From his own blueline, defenceman Dylan Plouffe sent a cross-ice pass to Davis Koch down the right-wing. Koch crossed the blueline, skated into the right circle and placed a perfect shot past the stick of Calgary starter Nick Schneider and home for his 19th of the season and his first goal in a Giants uniform.
Period one ended with Vancouver ahead 1-0, outshooting Calgary 12-7.
The home side would tack on two more goals in the second frame. Sophomore forward Tyler Popowich extended Vancouver’s lead to 2-0 at the 4:38 mark when he knocked home an Aidan Barfoot rebound home from in close. Then on a delayed penalty call, Tyler Benson skated into the left circle and placed a perfect pass through traffic to Ty Ronning at the side of the Calgary goal. Ronning tapped home the pass for his team-leading 43rd marker of the season.
Calgary wouldn’t fade away though. Due to some late penalties in the second, Calgary had some quality looks. But David Tendeck stood his ground, keeping his team ahead 3-0 through 40 minutes despite being outshot 13-8.
Calgary’s lone goal came early in the third when Jakob Stukel parked himself in front of the Giants goal and quickly one-timed home a Riley Stotts pass from the left-wing corner past Tendeck for his team-leading 24th of the season.
To their credit, the Giants clamped down defensively from there. They outshot Calgary 14-7 in the final period, and thanks to some power plays of their own, they held the territorial edge despite not scoring with the man-advantage.
Ty Ronning collected the game’s final goal at 18:50 of the third into an empty net after he took a pass along the right wing from Tyler Benson, skated across the line and placed a low shot past the defender and home for his 44th of the season. That goal moved him two ahead of Medicine Hat Tigers forward Mark Rassell for second place in the WHL. He’s now just five goals shy of a new franchise record, and six shy of becoming the first Giant to ever score 50 in a season.
With the victory the Giants snap a four-game winless streak improving their record to 26-16-5-3 in the process. They now sit four points shy of second in the B.C. Division while holding two games in hand on the second-placed Royals.
Vancouver returns to action against the same Calgary Hitmen (15-29-5-1) squad on Friday night at the LEC with a 7:30 puck-drop.
- 2002-born forward Justin Sourdif played in his second game of the season as an under-ager with the Giants Wednesday. He was two-for-four on faceoffs, had two shots-on-goal and helped draw a third period penalty.
- Rookie forward Aidan Barfoot collected his first career WHL assist on Tyler Popowich’s game-winning goal in the second period.
- Delta B.C. native Davis Koch recorded his first goal as a Vancouver Giant at 9:59 of the first period. He now has points in two straight games heading into Friday’s rematch with Calgary.