Vancouver Giants clip Prince George Cougars 2-1 after bearing down on defence
Vancouver stuffs two needed points into win column on Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Pacific Coliseum
Vancouver Giants' goalie Peyton Lee and his Western Hockey League teammates collect the goods following Friday night's annual Teddy Bear Toss promotion. The toss was triggered by a first-period goal against the Prince George Cougars at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. Trevor Cheek scored the goal.
Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG
Teddy bears clutched in hand, fans of the Vancouver Giants barely had time to cuddle their toys Friday when Trevor Cheek raced down the ice 1:55 into the first period, flung the puck at Prince George Cougars’ goalie Mac Engel and watched it fly into the net.
It was a wrist shot, not a stuff play, but it was enough to bring down the stuffed animals from the season-high crowd of 11,214 at the Pacific Coliseum. Party on!
Even Giants’ co-owner Michael Bublé, who was all over network TV this week, was in the house to enjoy the Teddy tally. No doubt he was singing Cheek’s praises from the owners’ box.
It was Cain Franson who emerged the bigger Vancouver hero, however, as he batted home a Cheek rebound with 6:58 remaining in the third period as the Giants edged the Cougars 2-1 to snap a three-game losing skid.
It was just the ninth victory in 32 games for the last-place Giants, but it moved them to within six points of the Cougars, who have only 10 wins. The two teams sit ninth and 10th in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference, so they’ll either widen or narrow the gap between them Saturday and Sunday when they meet again in Prince George. It will be the final two games for the clubs before they break for Christmas.
The Giants led for most of the first period Friday but couldn’t carry it through to the intermission and surrendered a last-minute goal to Jari Erricson, who beat Vancouver starter Payton Lee high glove side with 11.6 seconds remaining.
The scoreless middle period featured few scoring chances either way, Lee making his best stop on Jarrett Fontaine’s short-handed chance, while Engel heisted one off the stick of Dalton Sward, who was perfectly set up on the doorstep by Taylor Vickerman.
Lee, the 16-year-old from Cranbrook, was exceptional for the Giants, stopping 30 of 31 shots, including a couple of game-savers in the final minutes as Prince George enjoyed a late power play.
Meanwhile, Giants’ GM Scott Bonner indicated the team might call up 15-year-old forward Jakob Stukel, their second-round bantam pick in 2012, for a game after the Christmas break. Stukel is from Cloverdale and currently plays major midget for the Valley West Hawks.
First-round pick Ty Ronning won’t be summoned, however, because of a recurring arm injury. Ronning suffered a greenstick fracture in his left arm at the Giants’ training camp in August, returned in November to play for the South Delta Hockey Academy but bowed out of the lineup last week when he hurt the arm again. He is gone for at least six weeks.
“They want to make sure he’s 100 per cent before he goes back,” said Cliff Ronning, Ty’s dad.
Ty Ronning turned 15 in October. He was the 15th overall pick in last May’s bantam draft. As a 15-year-old, he is eligible to play five WHL games until his team is eliminated from playoffs.
G-NOTES: North Vancouver’s Jansen Harkins, the Cougars’ first-pick in the 2012 bantam draft, was called up from major midget for Friday’s game and skated on left wing ... Giants’ scout Todd Ripplinger left the organization Friday to join Gerry Johannson’s player agency. Todd’s younger brother, Jason Ripplinger, is the Giants’ director of player personnel.
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