Vancouver Giants have their first victory of the 2020-21 WHL season, and it came in convincing fashion Sunday night, March 28, in Kamloops with the Langley-based team earning a 6-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets.
A night Mazden Leslie won’t soon forget.. pic.twitter.com/zq4rRlT5m1— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) March 29, 2021
Tristen Nielsen paced the Giants attack with a three-goal first period, while 15-year-old defenceman Mazden Leslie scored twice in his WHL debut, and the final goal of the game came courtesy of Adam Hall.
Trent Miner turned aside all 20 shots he faced in his first start of the season in goal.
Fishbowl and all! Congrats to underager Mazden Leslie on scoring his first goal in his first WHL game, and even adding a second! pic.twitter.com/0mBSvDCtfQ— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) March 29, 2021
It was a big change from their first game, a 7-3 loss to Kamloops on Friday.
The difference, according to Giants Associate Coach Keith McCambridge, was the players “were on our toes.”
“We played a more aggressive game,” McCambridge elaborated.
“A lot of things that gave us trouble in our opener, we felt we were able to correct and play the game on the right side of the puck.”
McCambridge called Neilsen “outstanding.”
“He’s the type of dynamic player who can make a big difference.”
Leslie has “such raw talent,” McCambridge observed, and teammates were happy to see him get two goals in his first WHL outing.
“The guys were smiling ear-to-ear.”
Giants Senior Vice President Dale Saip told the Langley Advance Times the team will be able to make more use of the under-age player than usual during the COVID-compliant season.
“If this was a regular season, he would only be allowed about five games,” Saip explained.
RECAP: A five-point night from @tristen_080 and an unforgettable @TheWHL debut from @MazdenLeslie helped lift the G-Men to a 6-0 victory Sunday against Kelowna.— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) March 29, 2021
More 📎: https://t.co/FH8dBvA8XT
📸: Allen Douglas pic.twitter.com/6SmFR6o4yn
After his three-goal, five point night, Nielsen was quick to share credit.
“I hit the net tonight. That was huge. I was able to capitalize on my opportunities, but most importantly my linemates tonight were awesome,” Neilsen observed.
Nielsen becomes the first Giant to record five points in a game since Bowen Byram did so against Kamloops on January 12th, 2019.
A happy Mazden Leslie said D-partner Tanner Brown was “a huge help” in making a memorable debut.
“We played an all-around great game.” said Lesie, who becomes the first under-ager to score a goal for the Vancouver Giants since March 20, 2015.
For his first goal “I just picked up the rebound,” Leslie recalled, then scored a second time in the same period, calling it a “kind of back door” goal. “I did even know it went in until the light went on.”
Two of Trent Miner’s five career WHL shutouts have now come against Kelowna. His other shutout against the Rockets came on October 3, 2018.
Neilsen, Leslie and Miner were named three stars of the game.
Highlights of the Sunday game can be viewed by clicking HERE.
Giants take on the Victoria Royals Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
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