Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rielly has off night, scores Warriors' winner against Giants
West Van kid comes alive in third period as visitors hand Vancouver its fifth straight loss
Morgan Rielly wasn’t as dazzling as he was the last time he came by the Pacific Coliseum, but he showed what he was made of when it mattered most.
Rielly, the Moose Jaw Warriors star defenceman, had a relatively quiet first two periods against the Vancouver Giants Wednesday night, especially when you put it up against his sublime performance for Team WHL versus the Russians in the Subway Super Series at the rink two weeks ago to the day.
The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect from West Vancouver bagged the winner in the 2-1 decision, though, using his wheels to create a 2-on-1 and then putting his own rebound past Vancouver netminder Payton Lee with 4:51 remaining in the contest, much to the chagrin of the lively crowd of 5,525.
Rielly, a sure bet to make Canada’s world junior team, had hit the post on a short-handed breakaway earlier in the third.
It was a fifth straight loss for Vancouver (7-18-0-0). Moose Jaw (10-11-3-4) was coming off a come-from-behind 4-3 shootout win over the host Victoria Royals on Tuesday. They continue their five-game, eight-night B.C. road swing Friday with a visit to the Kelowna Rockets.
Moose Jaw certainly didn’t look like a team winded by the road against the Giants, as they finished the night with a 34-16 shot advantage. Lee, the 16-year-old who has been thrust into the Vancouver starting netminder role, sparkled again.
Moose Jaw goalie Justin Paulic was better than his numbers, considering Vancouver has several Grade A chances. He made a couple of key stops in the third period, sprawling to thwart Jackson Houck on a rush and then standing tall on Dalton Sward.
It was part of what was an odd evening in some ways. Vancouver ended up having to kill off two too-many-men penalties, a rarity for them.
They also thought they had taken a 2-1 lead at 17:13 of the middle stanza, when Cheek had driven past Rielly to the net and slipped a puck past Paulic just as the net was coming off its moorings. Referee Brett Iverson waved it off, saying the cage was dislodged first, and the video review backed him up.
The Giants opened the scoring at the 3:20 mark of the first, as Tristan Sieben beat Paulic with a wraparound. It was Sieben’s third of the season and first in 17 games.
The Warriors knotted the score at 1-1 on a power play at 18:30 of the first, when Kendall McFaull slipped a point shot past Lee. The puck seemed to take a hop that baffled Lee. It was McFaull’s first of the season. The winner was Rielly’s fifth.
The line of Houck, Cheek and the ever-improving Carter Popoff was solid for Vancouver much of the game.
Vancouver is back at Friday, visiting the Everett Silvertips, and then they’re at home Saturday, facing the Tri-City Americans on one of their Heroes of Hastings promotion nights. They’ll honour former Vancouver Canucks stalwart Trevor Linden that evening.
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