For the first time in more than a month, the Vancouver Giants were able to string together back-to-back victories.
The Giants went into the holiday break with a pair of big wins, knocking off the Portland Winterhawks 6-3 on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre on Teddy Bear Toss Night, before following that up with a 5-4 overtime win in Victoria against the Royals on Saturday night.
The results improved Vancouver to 13-18-1-2 and 29 points in Western Hockey League action.
Even more impressive was the fact the wins came against Western Conference opponents.
The victory over Portland was the Giants’ first win against a U.S. Division foe as Vancouver entered the contest 0-8-0-2 against the division. And by beating Victoria, Vancouver improved to 4-9-1-0 against their divisional foes.
In both games, the Giants jumped ahead to 3-1 leads after 20 minutes.
But while in the first contest, they led throughout, Saturday’s game saw the Giants fall behind 4-3 midway through the third period.
With goaltender Ryan Kubic on the bench for an extra attacker, Thomas Foster — who scored twice in Friday’s win — struck for the equalizer with 1:18 to play.
And Ty Ronning scored on the power play with 14 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Giants the extra point.
Jack Flaman, Tyler Benson and Jeff Rayman had the other Vancouver goals, with Rayman scoring in back-to-back games for his first two goals of the season.
Kubic made 31 saves in Friday’s victory, including 16 in the third period alone.
“I thought we controlled the game for the first 50 minutes,” Vancouver coach Jason McKee said following Friday’s victory. “And then I thought we showed some immaturity. We started to bring pucks back into our own zone rather than going north with them.”
“At times we took way too much risk in my opinion.”
But all in all, it was a complete effort.
“I have said from day one, we need everyone in our lineup to give a complete effort if we want to have success (and) I thought our guys competed,” McKee said, adding that the players fed off the home crowd’s energy on Teddy Bear Toss Night, which was triggered by Malm’s goal 3:34 into the contest.
Great showing for @WHLGiants Teddy Toss last night. Despite the smaller LEC, there were more bears thrown than at the Coliseum last year!