We have a series.
Alex Cotton’s power-play goal with under four minutes to play combined with a chaotic goal-mouth scramble with 3.7 seconds remaining where somehow Kamloops was not able to slide the puck across the goal line, helped the Vancouver Giants to a crucial 3-2 victory on Tuesday night at Langley Events Centre.
Another 🚀 from Cotton! pic.twitter.com/KrKCLOjsNN— x - Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) May 11, 2022
The Kamloops Blazers still lead the Western Hockey League Western Conference best-of-seven semi-final series two games to one. Game four is set for Thursday night at 7 p.m. back at Langley Events Centre.
RECAP: Series on! The Giants got a late power play goal from Alex Cotton and 34 saves from Jesper Vikman in a 3-2 home victory Tuesday over the Kamloops Blazers! Game 4 goes Thursday at 7.— x - Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) May 11, 2022
More 📎: https://t.co/4pnMTrI6Wp
Game 4 🎟️: https://t.co/H8lzM0TEKz
📸: @rjmedia_ca pic.twitter.com/Ta8bJSsp4i
This marked the first time in seven post-season games that the Blazers were on the wrong end of a score as they swept the Spokane Chiefs 4-0 – by a combined score of 23-3 – in their quarter-final series. Kamloops is the second seed after finishing 46 points ahead of the eighth-place Giants during the regular season and the Blazers went 10-1-1 in a dozen head-to-head meetings with their BC Division rivals.
But this Giants team has proven different than the one which limped into the final playoff spot with a single victory in their final dozen regular season games.
“It has been rolling like this for a couple of weeks now and even before that. We have been starting to build a lot of chemistry and a lot of belief in our group and I think they are just carrying it through,” said Vancouver coach Michael Dyck.
Tuesday’s game began with Kamloops controlling the early part and generating the firs five shots on goal, but it was the Giants who opened the scoring at the 11:55 mark when Justin Lies ripped home a shot from the slot. That stood as the only goal until the 9:45 point of the middle stanza with Fraser Minten evening the score at one, just two seconds after a Vancouver penalty expired.
The Giants’ Ty Thorpe restored the lead with a power-play goal four minutes later and the home side took a 2-1 lead into the locker room before Kamloops’ Drew Englot tied the score at two just before the midway point of the third period as he redirected a point shot for the power play goal.
But with overtime looming, Vancouver drew a penalty, won the face-off, and got the puck to Alex Cotton, who blasted home his sixth of the playoffs. Cotton leads all WHL defencemen in scoring with six goals and 16 points and his point total has him tied for third among all players.
“We knew we were getting a good two-way defenceman with obviously a lot of offensive upside; he is really bringing it in the playoffs right now,” Dyck said.
The teams will play game five in Kamloops on Friday, May 13, and if necessary, game six would be back at Langley Events Centre on Sunday, May 15, with a 4 p.m. puck drop.
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