Trevor Cheek, 14, of the Vancouver Giants stretches for this rebound in front of goalie Taran Kozun, 41, of the Kamloops Blazers in WHL action at the Pacific Coliseum on December 9, 2012.
Photograph by: Stuart Davis, PNG
VANCOUVER - Every underdog has his day, but for the bottom-feeding Vancouver Giants it wasn’t Sunday. Nor was it Saturday — or even Friday for that matter.
The Giants hung close to the B.C. Division-leading Kamloops Blazers for two periods Sunday before the inevitable caving in of the roof at the Pacific Coliseum. They led 1-0 halfway through the Western Hockey League game, were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes and wound up falling 4-1.
The defeat, Vancouver’s 23rd in 31 WHL games, was the Giants’ third straight in another lost weekend. They went down 4-1 Saturday in Everett, which followed a 3-1 home loss Friday to the Swift Current Broncos.
Three goals in three games won’t cut it in any league and it left the Giants pondering their collective navels after they netted seven against the Victoria Royals last Wednesday. They use them all up, or what?
“Yeah, it’s discouraging,” said Giants’ centre Cain Franson, Vancouver’s lone scorer Sunday. “We’ve been struggling to score goals all year and then we go into Victoria and get seven and then it kind of disappears again. I mean, that’s unacceptable.
“We also have to be smarter with our penalties. It’s only a matter of time before they put one in the back of the net and put the game out of reach.”
Sunday’s match turned early in the third period as the Blazers began the period on a 5-on-3 power play, their second two-man advantage of the game. They weren’t successful on the first one but this time they made the Giants pay dearly as Tim Bozon and Brendan Ranford scored 13 seconds apart, Bozon’s coming during the 5-on-3 and Ranford’s during the 5-on-4.
Until that point, the Giants’ penalty-kill unit had been perfect in five shorthanded situations. Chase Souto added an empty-netter, his second of the night, to complete the scoring.
“I thought we played with a lot more passion and a lot more fire and that led to more penalties,” commented Giants head coach Don Hay. “For the most part, we did a pretty good job but it’s hard to kill off 5-on-3s. There are no moral victories, none of that. I mean, we’re disappointed we didn’t win.”
Franson opened scoring Sunday on a 3-on-1 as he went far-post-and-in at 3:11 of the middle period. He smartly used Kale Kessy and Travis McEvoy as decoys before firing home his 10th of the season, tying him with Trevor Cheek for the team lead.
The Giants had a number of glorious scoring chances to double their margin but Carter Popoff, Cheek (twice) and Tristan Sieben, among others, were unable to finish.
“It’s hard for us to score goals,” Hay said. “We don’t get any easy ones. We’re not blessed with goal scorers but we did have guys with the puck in that situation who can score. It just comes down to execution. Scoring goals is hard work. It takes commitment and sacrifice. You don’t get rewarded unless you’re prepared to sacrifice.”
The Blazers eventually tied it 1-1 at the 14:23 mark of the second when Souto went top shelf on Payton Lee from the circle.
The first period was scoreless despite the fact Kamloops pelted Lee with 19 shots. It was also a feisty one that produced 82 penalty minutes, 60 of those in misconducts for a melee at the 20-minute mark.
G-NOTES: The Giants are idle until Friday when they entertain the Prince George Cougars in Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Coliseum ... Right-winger Tanner Moar netted the lone Giants’ goal Saturday in Everett. Liam Liston made 26 saves in the loss, his ninth in 10 decisions this season. The Giants have been outscored 19-9 in four losses to the ’Tips. Everett, which sits last in the U.S. Division, has just won just eight times against the rest of the league.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun