In the third series of the playoffs, the Giants have now emerged triumphant in the Western Conference, and will go on to compete against the top Eastern Conference team starting this coming Friday, May 3 at Langley Events Centre. (Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)

VIDEO: Giants defeat Chiefs in Game 5, advancing to WHL finals

Vancouver’s major junior hockey franchise took Spokane four games to win the Western Conference title

Vancouver Giants are the Western Conference champions.

The Giants defeated the Spokane Chiefs 3-2 on Friday night in front of 4,886 fans at Langley Events Centre to take the Western Conference Championship four games to one.

They will now battle either the Prince Albert Raiders or Edmonton Oil Kings for the Ed Chynoweth Cup in the Rogers WHL Championship Series. The Raiders are up 3-2 in the Eastern Conference championship series with Game 6 set for Sunday in Edmonton.

Vancouver will play for the WHL title for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

“We are clicking at a good pace here, but we are not going to be satisfied with our work here. We came into this knowing we had four series to win and we are three down. We have to put the work boots on again next week,” said defenceman Dylan Plouffe, the longest tenured Giant with 244 regular season games under his belt.

Vancouver captain Jared Dmytriw said the post-season taste the team sampled last year – a first round seven-game series loss – whetted the team’s appetite and was the driving force all off season and throughout the regular season.

“This has been the goal since the outset. We have never doubted ourselves throughout the season,” he said.

In Game 5, Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period and after Spokane cut the lead to 3-2 early in the third period, Brayden Watts struck just 21 seconds later for what turned out to be the series-clinching goal.

Plouffe was in the penalty box when Jaret Anderson-Dolan got the Chiefs on the board and within a goal with nearly 16 minutes still to play.

He was more than relieved when his teammates responded with a goal while Anderson-Dolan’s score was still being announced, but he wasn’t surprised by his team’s bounce back when they could have tightened up.

“That is the identity of our team, we are never quitting,” said Plouffe.

Ethan McIndoe made things interesting with 1:47 to go, scoring in tight while his team had an extra attacker with the goalie pulled but the Giants responded by controlling the puck for the next 47 seconds in the opposition’s zone. And once Spokane did get the puck, netminder David Tendeck stopped one shot while Dmytriw and Owen Hardy each came up with blocked shots.

Tendeck and Trent Miner alternated for much of the first two rounds, with each playing five games and going 4-1. Tendeck got the call in Game 1 against Spokane and hasn’t looked back.

He finished the series with a .935 save percentage and for the post-season, has a 2.04 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

Special teams were a huge factor in the series with Vancouver scoring a power-play goal in each of the five games and finishing 5-for-12 while Spokane (which entered the series converting at an absurd 48 per cent, 12-for-25) went a dismal 1-for-11, scoring on their final man-advantage opportunity.

“I think our penalty kill was the difference in the series. Their power play is so potent and for us to do what we did in the series, because at the end of the day their power play was clicking at (nearly 50 per cent) over the previous two series, that was a big part of it,” said Giants head coach Michael Dyck.

In fact, the Giants penalty kill matched the Chiefs power play with each team scoring once in the series.

Bowen Byram had opened the scoring in Game 5 with his team a man down, intercepting the pass in his own zone and rather than dumping the puck, skating to the Spokane zone and cutting to the middle, beating goaltender Bailey Brkin along the ice.

Less than two minutes later, the Giants power play cashed in as Plouffe’s shot hit Justin Sourdif and went in for a 2-0 lead after one period. Neither team would score in the middle frame before the Chiefs struck twice in the final 20 minutes but could not force overtime for a third consecutive game.

While the series ended in five games and Vancouver was the superior squad for the bulk of it, the Giants were opportunistic and scored in bunches.

Vancouver used strong first periods in both games one and five – where they outscored Spokane 4-0 – and the third periods of games two and four – combined score of 7-1 for the Giants. For the other 11 periods, the score was 9-5 for Spokane. The teams also had an overtime goal apiece in the series.

For the third time in the 18-year history of the franchise, the Vancouver Giants have advanced to the Western Hockey League finals.

The location of the first two games of the next series are still up in the air. If Vancouver plays Edmonton, the games will be held here on home ice at the Langley Events Centre on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4. If not, then the first two games will be played in Prince Albert, followed by Games 3 and 4 here in Langley.

• Stay tuned for updates on that schedule, once the Eastern Conference champ is crowned.

BOX SCORES

GAME HIGHLIGHTS

1st Period:

VAN – Bowen Byram (7) got the Giants on the board at 16:42 with an unassisted, shorthanded tally. Byram skated the puck up ice, faked wide to the right before cutting to the middle and wiring a low shot past Bailey Brkin and home to move the G-Men ahead 1-0.

VAN – Two minutes and 40 seconds later on a power play the Giants increased their lead when Dylan Plouffe’s rebound off a shot from the right-wing point bounced off Justin Sourdif (2) and past Bailey Brkin to make it a 2-0 game.

Shots: 14-5 Vancouver

2nd Period:

No Scoring

Shots: 12-7 Spokane

3rd Period:

SPO – At 4:22 of the final period the Chiefs got on the board when Jarret Anderson-Dolan’s shot from the right-wing circle snuck through traffic and past David Tendeck to make it a 2-1 game.

VAN – 21 seconds later the Giants responded when Brayden Watts knocked home an Alex Kannok Leipert rebound to move the Giants ahead by two once again.

SPO – With just under two minutes remaining in the third, the Chiefs (with their net empty) moved back within one when Ethan McIndoe parked himself in front of the Giants net and lifted a high shot over David Tendeck’s shoulder off a feed from behind the net. That’s as close as the Chiefs would come though as the Giants were able to shut the door from then on out.

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BY THE NUMBER

• Final score: Vancouver 3 – Spokane 2 (Giants win the series 4-1)

• Final shots: 32-29 Vancouver

• David Tendeck: 27/29 saves for Vancouver (8-1-1-0)
• Bailey Brkin: 29/32 saves for Spokane (9-6)
• Vancouver: 1/4 on the power play
• Spokane:1/4 on the power play
• 3 Stars: 1) David Tendeck (VAN – 27 saves); 2) Bowen Byram (VAN – 1G, 1A); and 3) Alex Kannok Leipert (VAN – 1A)

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Even though location of Game 1 and 2 hinge on the outcome of the Eastern Conference championship, tickets for the TBA home games in the Rogers WHL Championship series are on sale now online.

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More of what you missed, if you weren’t at Langley Events Centre Friday night.

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The crowd was roaring as the Vancouver Giants took down Spokane for the fourth and deciding game in the Western Conference finals on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre. The G-Men won the game 3-2, and took the series 4-1. (Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants)

In the third series of the playoffs, the Giants have now emerged triumphant in the Western Conference, and will go on to compete against the top Eastern Conference team starting this coming Friday, May 3 at Langley Events Centre. (Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)

In the third series of the playoffs, the Giants have now emerged triumphant in the Western Conference, and will go on to compete against the top Eastern Conference team starting this coming Friday, May 3 at Langley Events Centre. (Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)

In the third series of the playoffs, the Giants have now emerged triumphant in the Western Conference, and will go on to compete against the top Eastern Conference team starting this coming Friday, May 3 at Langley Events Centre. (Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)

In the third series of the playoffs, the Giants have now emerged triumphant in the Western Conference, and will go on to compete against the top Eastern Conference team starting this coming Friday, May 3 at Langley Events Centre. (Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)

In the third series of the playoffs, the Giants have now emerged triumphant in the Western Conference, and will go on to compete against the top Eastern Conference team starting this coming Friday, May 3 at Langley Events Centre. (Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)

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