On the verge of surrendering home-ice advantage, the Vancouver Giants flipped the script, scoring four unanswered goals in a 3:21 span of the third period to shock the Spokane Chiefs 4-2.
The victory on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre gives Vancouver a 2-0 lead in the WHL’s Western Conference championship best-of-seven series, which now shifts to Spokane for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Chiefs, who lost 4-1 in Game 1 the previous night, led 2-0 thanks to goals 38 seconds apart, one in the final minute of the opening frame and the other to start the middle stanza.
The former came courtesy of a wrist shot from the point courtesy of defenceman Noah King, who beat David Tendeck through traffic for his first of the post-season.
The latter came after Tendeck couldn’t glove Jake McGrew’s shot cleanly, with the puck falling into the crease and LA Kings second-round draft pick Jaret Anderson-Dolan beating the defender to the puck to shovel in his fourth of the playoffs.
Spokane was full value for the lead and did a great job of limiting the Giants time and space in those first 40 minutes, leaving most to believe the series was destined for a 1-1 split.
“We just talked about getting on our toes and playing. We were thinking, we weren’t reacting in the first period (and) they played better as five in the first period,” said Vancouver coach Michael Dyck.
“We started getting it back in the second period and just had to stick with it.”
And the third period showed just that as it was all Vancouver.
The Chiefs benefitted from a fortuitus bounce in game one for their lone goal as a weird bounce led to an empty-net goal. The Hockey Gods repaid that favour as Alex Kannok Leipert’s dump-in hit nearly that exact same spot and the puck came out front with Dawson Holt burying his fourth of the post-season.
The goal came at 5:15 and less than two minutes later, Spokane had a chance at a three-on-one break but Vancouver intercepted and came back on a two-on-one the other way. Justin Sourdif’s shot was stopped but captain Jared Dmytriw pounced on the rebound for his fifth. And while that goal was still being announced, Dmytriw struck again 22 seconds later.
Yannik Valenti gave the home side some breathing room, hammering a one-timer from Davis Koch for the 4-2 lead. The Giants had scored four goals in 3:21 on a half dozen shots or so.
Attendance was 4,746 and the fans made their presence felt in that third period.
“As we generated more pressure and things started to bounce our way, it obviously gets the crowd into it. And when the crowd gets into it, it revs us up and it becomes an intimidating place to play,” Dyck said.
“I have never heard this place so loud. I thought the roof was going to come down,” added Bowen Byram.
Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin was under siege that final period. He faced 24 shots over the first 40 minutes and then a whopping 20 over the final 20 minutes.
The Chiefs were able to muster just six shots in the third period and 26 for the game.
Prior to the series, the talk had been about the importance of special teams with Spokane boasting both the top power play (48 per cent) and second-best penalty kill (85.7 per cent) among the playoff clubs.
Vancouver went 1-for-2 while Spokane was 0-for-2 and through two games, the Giants are 2-for-4 and the Chiefs 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Giants now head to Spokane for games three and four.
“It’s a long series. There is a lot ahead of us. We took care of home ice but now it is our job to head down to Spokane and a hostile environment and take care of business down there,” Dmytriw said.
Dmytriw (two goals), Holt (one goal, one assist) and Dylan Plouffe (two assists) all had multi-point games for the Giants.
With the team on the road, the Vancouver Giants Booster Club is hosting viewing parties for both games in the banquet hall at Langley Events Centre. The cost is $15 and includes a buffet dinner. Tacos will be served on Tuesdays and hamburgers on Wednesday.
The next at home game, if necessary, will be held at Langley Events Centre on Friday, April 26, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.
BY THE NUMBERS
• Final score: Vancouver 4 – Spokane 2
• Final shots: 44-26 Vancouver
• David Tendeck: 24/26 saves for Vancouver (6-1)
• Bailey Brkin: 40/44 saves for Spokane (8-4)
• Vancouver: 1/2 on the Power Play
• Spokane: 0/2 on the Power Play
• 3 Stars: 1. Jared Dmytriw (VAN – 2G); 2. Dawson Holt (VAN – 1G, 1A); 3. Justin Sourdif (VAN – 1A)
• The Giants have trailed three times going into the third period in these playoffs. They’ve now won two of those games.
• During his past four games, Dawson Holt has scored twice and added five assists for seven points. He now has four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 12 playoff games.
• Giants power play once again scored and has now clicked in 11 of the 12 playoff games that the Giants have played.
• Giants were 1-1 against Spokane during the regular season on the road.
• Yannik Valenti became the 14th Vancouver Giant to record at least one goal during the playoffs.