Captains Tyler Benson and Matthew Phillips shake hands following the Victoria Royals 4-3 game seven victory in the WHL playoffs. Jon Howe Victoria Royals

Game over for Giants

Superior special teams help Royals end Vancouver’s season

It could not have been any closer.

Not only did the series go seven games, but the goals scored were 25 apiece for the Victoria Royals and the Vancouver Giants.

Unfortunately for the Giants, it was the host Royals capping off come-from-behind series victory, taking game seven on Tuesday night by a 4-3 score at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

Victoria had forced a game seven with a 4-3 overtime victory the day before at the Langley Events Centre and the Royals will host the Tri City Americans in the second round of the WHL playoffs.

“I am not sure we could have done a whole lot different,” said Giants head coach Jason McKee, on Wednesday afternoon.

“I thought we did what we needed to but the puck just didn’t want to go in for us.”

Four of the seven games were one-goal contests, with the teams trading four-goal victories in games three and four and the Giants won game five by two goals.

“But our effort level, our commitment level throughout the series — game four we had a one-off — but other than that, these kids played extremely hard,” McKee said.

“It just wasn’t meant to be.”

By the numbers

Victoria had 31 power play opportunities compared to Vancouver’s 18 man-advantage chances, which was the biggest discrepancy among the eight first round series. The Swift Current/Regina series was the next closest with a difference of 11.

Over the course of the 427:06 of the series (game six needed 7:06 of overtime), the Giants were short-handed for a total of 59:06 compared to Victoria’s 34:23, a difference of nearly 25 minutes.

And the Royals made the Giants pay, scoring seven power-play goals compared to Vancouver’s two.

Five-on-five, Vancouver outscored Victoria 23-18.

Vancouver had the more balanced scoring attack

The Royals trio of Matthew Phillips, Dante Hannoun and Noah Gregor did a number on the Giants as all three had double digit points.

Phillips posted six goals and 16 points, Hannoun had three goals and a dozen points and Gregor had four goals and 10 points.

Captain Tyler Benson, Milos Roman and Bowen Byram had three goals apiece to lead Vancouver.

The Giants also received eight-goals from the blue-line compared to three for Victoria.

And in goal, Griffen Outhouse finished with an .896 save percentage while the Giants tandem of David Tendeck and Trent Miner had a combined .879 save percentage. Vancouver outshot Victoria 240-207 in the series.

Game seven recap

In Tuesday’s decisive game, the Royals led 1-0 after one on a Chaz Reddekopp power-play goal and then jumped ahead 3-0 on goals from Lane Zablocki and Phillips early in the middle stanza.

Tyler Popowich got the Giants on the board but less than two minutes later, Phillips tallied is sixth goal of the series.

That would turn out to be the winner as Matt Barberis and Brendan Riddle cut the deficit to one prior to second intermission.

Vancouver would press for the equalizer in the third period but either Outhouse would come up with the save or the shot would be blocked by a diving Royal.

Outhouse’s efforts included a pair of point-blank saves late in the third period.

“It was just such a hard fought series and such a hard fought game. Vancouver competed so hard and it took us everything we had to overcome it and to get through it,” said Royals head coach Dan Price. “We’re just really proud of the fact that we were able to persevere and get through it.”

While the Giants were disappointed to lose in such a close fashion, they can hold their heads high with the effort they gave in the game and the series, Benson said, who had two assists Tuesday and finished with a team-best 11 points, registering points in all seven games.

Even when they fell behind 3-0 and 4-1 in the second period, he said, “we were still strong mentally … we battled hard and it almost feels like we deserved better. When you play this team – I think it was 17 times throughout the season – you’re going to know each other well. It was a battle all series and it came down to one goal today.”

After a series in which the club’s younger players learned what it takes to win big games, Giants sniper Ty Ronning said the organization is well positioned for the future, especially with many players expected back next season.

“The way I look at it, the Vancouver Giants are going to be A-OK the way they pick their guys, character guys … I wouldn’t have gone to war with anybody else, they’re great teammates and great people,” he said.

Ronning was one of Vancouver’s three over-age players and leaves on Saturday to join the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers AHL affiliate. He signed with the Rangers last month.

Defencemen Darian Skeoch and Brennan Riddle also age-out of junior hockey.

Vancouver should also lose their captain as Benson, a second round pick of Edmonton in 2016, has signed with the Oilers and if he can’t crack the Edmonton roster in the fall, is expected to play somewhere in their organization.

— with files from Don Descoteau Black Press

 

Vancouver Giants Darian Skeoch and Victoria Royals’ Igor Martynov during game seven on Tuesday at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Jon Howe Victoria Royals

Giants forward Tyler Popowich and Royals’ Kaid Oliver pursue a loose puck. Jon Howe Victoria Royals

Vancouver’s Matt Barberis tries to corral a loose puck during his team’s season-ending defeat at the hands of the Victoria Royals. Jon Howe Victoria Royals

Dawson Holt tries to elude Kade Jensen behind the goal, Jon Howe Victoria Royals

Goaltender David Tendeck during game seven. Jon Howe Victoria Royals

James Malm battles with Royals forward Lane Zablocki. Jon Howe Victoria Royals

Just Posted

Hands Against Racism takes over Surrey City Hall

Event included music, dance; two people received awards

New driver ticketed after sending vehicle through White Rock garden

‘We heard a big bang and he drove right into the bush,’ witness says

Surrey couple visits the Philippines each year to give back to wife’s former village

Nissa and Bob Clarkson give toys to children, provide medical-dental missions

STRONG, PERSEVERING AND PROUD: Surrey Pride celebrates 20 years with biggest party yet

PART ONE: A special series on the past, present and future of our LGBTQ+ community

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

VIDEO: Vancouver fall to Seattle in Game 2 of the playoffs

Thunderbirds topple the Giants 4-1 in Langley, evening the Western Conference series one game each

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Most Read