With an assortment of Halloween costumes in the stands, the scariest thing to see might have been the puck heading towards the goal-line in the dying seconds of overtime.
But Vancouver Giant’s goaltender Trent Miner stretched across and got his paddle on the puck off a shot attempt from Brandon’s Stelio Mattheos – who entered the contest with 13 goals in 13 games – preserving the tie and sending it to a shootout.
Brayden Watts would be the lone player from either team to score in the three-round shootout, sending the Vancouver Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Sunday at Langley Events Centre.
Miner humbly credited his defence for giving him the opportunity, especially since he said they have bailed him out on more than one occasion.
“I think it was more them tying everyone up and giving me the chance to make the save,” he said.
Regardless of who deserved the credit, the win salvaged a weekend split for the Giants, who were coming off their most lopsided loss of the season, a 5-1 home-ice defeat at the hands of the Seattle Thunderbirds. The 1-1 weekend improves Vancouver to 11-3-2-0 as they continue to lead the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division while Brandon fell to 6-3-3-2.
The teams were tied at one after 20 minutes, trading power-play goals. Connor Gutenburg deflected Zack Wytinck’s point shot up and over Miner to open the scoring while Milos Roman banged home a Bowen Byram loose puck 4:25 later.
The lone goal of the middle stanza was from Brandon’s Caiden Daley, as he scored what was essentially a power-play goal as the Giant player was out of the box but had yet to join the play.
Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes, Watts re-directed a pass from Roman on the man advantage with 9:30 to play for the equalizer before Watts scored in the third round of the shootout and Miner denied Linden McCorrister with a blocker save to secure the second point.
Miner finished with 37 saves and he continues to lead the WHL with a goals against average of 1.41 and a .953 save percentage.
Mired in an 0-for-15 power play slump – including 0-for-7 the night before – Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck said the goal was to get more traffic in front of the opposing goaltender, as the Giants had scored more than one goal in two of their previous three games.
“Yesterday we were getting the shots, but we weren’t getting any traffic and certainly any second chance opportunities,” he said. Today we wanted to get far more traffic and people at the net and we did.”
The Giants now have nearly a full week to get set for their next game, Saturday, Nov. 3 when they host the Kamloops Blazers at Langley Events Centre. Vancouver has only dressed five defencemen the previous two games because of injury and they also continue to miss leading scorer James Malm.