After a summer of promise and hype, it was not the start the Vancouver Giants were looking for.
The Giants fell to 0-2-0-0 on the season after losing their home opener 6-1 to the Victoria Royals at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday night. Vancouver had also lost 7-1 the night before in Victoria to kick off the Western Hockey League season.
The losses came on the heels of a 5-1 pre-season where Vancouver showed a new-found affinity for the back of the net with 24 goals in those six exhibition contests.
And the Giants had their opportunities over the weekend, firing 36 pucks at the Royals net on Friday and another 47 the next night. But all they had to show for that was a meagre two goals — one on each night.
“We got enough pucks on net but the shot quality wasn’t there,” admitted forward James Malm, the lone Giant to beat Victoria goaltender Griffen Outhouse on Saturday. “We just didn’t perform.”
Malm scored in the second period with his team trailing 3-0. On the goal, defenceman Bowen Byram made a nice play to hang on to the puck, draw a defender over and then feed Malm in the slot.
The Royals scored a pair of goals in the first period —- Dante Hannoun from down low and in tight and then Jared Freadrich with a high-rising slap shot from the point on the power play.
Vancouver had a brilliant opportunity to open the scoring but Ty Ronning failed to convert with a gaping net to shoot at. Ronning did have the team’s lone goal the night before in the 7-1 defeat.
Victoria’s Ryan Peckford made it 3-0 3:19 into the second before Malm finally gave the home crowd something to cheer.
But a brutal Giants turnover led to Igor Martynov’s goal to restore the three-goal advantage heading into second intermission.
“I told the guys after the second, we easily could have been winning 1-0 if we had just done our jobs,” said Vancouver coach Jason McKee. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and this is a result of guys making poor decisions at key times.”
The head coach was disappointed in his team’s lack of execution and discipline.
“The mistakes we are making (were) completely in our control and lazy,” he said.
“(But we are) not committed to being hard on pucks and some poor decision-making, and its in the back of our net.”
Jared Legien and then Hannoun with a short-handed marker rounded out the scoring. Each player finished with three points.
For the game, Victoria went 2-for-7 on the power play and combined with Friday, were five-for-15 with the man advantage.
The one positive the coach said the team could take was the amount of shots they generated.
“I thought their goalie made some key saves at key times and if we continue to create that much opportunity, eventually the puck will go in,” he said.
The Giants are back in action on Sept. 29 when they host the Kamloops Blazers.