by Troy Landreville
All the ingredients were in place for a Vancouver Giants’ home win Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre.
The G-Men were riding a four-game road win streak going into the contest and were now itching for some success on home ice, with a woeful 1-4 record at the LEC.
Well, you can now make it 1-5 at home.
That’s because the Saskatoon Blades came into the LEC and abruptly ended the streak by beating the Giants 3-1 in front of 3,627 fans.
The loss drops the Giants’ record to 5-8, as they continue to search for a way to climb out of third spot in the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division.
The Blades improved to 6-3-1 with the victory.
“I thought we had a good start to the game,” Giants captain Tyler Benson said. “We were creating chances as a whole but I think once they scored their first one, we kind of let off as a team.”
Giants head coach Jason McKee felt his team gave up too much to the visitors.
“We had chances and we didn’t score early,” McKee said. “And when we didn’t score, it kind of felt like they got momentum. They got some life and I felt they were the better team in the second half. We didn’t do as much as a group to be a difference in the game.”
Vancouver had some players going well, but there were also “a lot of guys who just weren’t involved enough to make an impact in the outcome,” McKee said.
The Giants loaded up a line with centre Thomas Foster between Benson and right wing Ty Ronning, and the trio was dangerous every time they were out on the ice.
In fact, Benson had a clear cut breakaway set up by a seeing-eye pass from Foster, but just missed scoring in what was the G-Men’s best scoring chance of the opening frame.
Later in the period, the hosts dodged a bullet when, off a rush caused by an errant Giants pass at their own blueline, the Blades appeared to have scored off a goalmouth scramble, but the puck was ruled to have been kicked in by Saskatoon forward Josh Patterson.
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Both goaltenders shone through the first two periods, with the Blades’ Logan Flodell, and his Giants counterpart Ryan Kubic matching one another with several solid saves apiece.
Late in a second period and with the Blades on a power play, right winger Mason McCarty opened the scoring when he whipped a shot past a screened Kubic.
Foster evened the score 1:13 after McCarty’s marker when he took a quick pass from Benson and, from the slot, snapped a beauty up top that beat Flodell.
Ronning picked up the second assist after some diligent work down low.
The Blades stole momentum back when Jesse Shynkaruk found the net off a low, turnaround shot in the slot, after his first attempt bounced off the shin pad of Giants defenceman Dylan Plouffe.
Just 19 second into the third period, the Blades narrowly missed making it 3-1 when a shot from the slot bounced off the crossbar.
But they did make good seven seconds later when McCarty collected a bank pass off the boards from Wyatt Sloboshan before snapping a shot past Kubic for his second of the game – and the Blades’ third power play goal of the night.
The Giants pulled Kubic with a minute and a half to go, but weren’t able to score.
Benson said it was a “tough game for us.”
“It wasn’t a great effort from us but I think tomorrow we’re going to have a good practice and we’re going to have to get back at it these next couple of games,” he added.
ICE CHIPS: The Giants lone win at home so far this season came Oct. 2, a 3-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers.
Blades’ 18-year-old centre Luke Gingras made his return to his hometown of Langley.