Saturday night in Spokane proved a rewarding night for the Langley-based Vancouver Giants, as they snatched away their first victory against the Chiefs in more than five years.
In front of more than 10,500 Spokane fans, the G-Men earned a 6-5 come-from-behind shootout victory. It was the Giants first win in Spokane since February 2009.
Davis Koch paced the Giants offence with three assists, while Tyler Benson added two goals, including the game-tying goal which came with 2:21 left in the third period.
Dawson Holt had a goal and an assist in regulation along with the shootout game winning goal.
Between the pipes rookie Trent Miner earned his first road WHL victory making 29 saves and three more in the shootout, guiding the Giants to their 35th victory of the season.
Riley Woods answered with two goals in response for the Spokane Chiefs.
How the game broke out
An evening removed from a 6-2 loss to the Tri-City Americans, the Giants came out flying in Spokane.
Chiefs starter Dawson Weatherill was sharp early making some big saves for his team, while Trent Miner, making just his fourth career WHL start was up to the task for the Giants.
Early in the first he made a breakaway save off Los Angeles Kings prospect Jarret Anderson-Dolan to keep the game even. It wouldn’t be the last time that Miner and Anderson-Dolan would clash.
San Jose prospect Jake McGrew got Spokane on the board at 11:43 of the first period on a backhand breakaway finish. 33 seconds later though Aidan Barfoot ripped his fifth of the season past Weatherill off a two-on-one rush to tie the score at one.
Late in the period Anderson-Dolan wired home his 37th of the season from the high slot on a power play to give the Chiefs their second lead of the night. Shots were 11-9 after one for the Chiefs who held a 2-1 advantage.
Giants captain Benson got the Giants back even at 12:27 of the second period when he tipped a Bowen Byram shot through Weatherill and home for his 25th.
For a third time though the Chiefs regained their lead back when 20-year-old Carolina Hurricanes prospect Hudson Elynuik snuck into the slot and roofed a shot up and over Miner’s right shoulder for his 30th.
Spokane took a 3-2 lead into the final period holding a 22-14 edge in shots.
Early in the third the Chiefs caught a big break when Giants forward (and leading scorer) Ty Ronning was ejected from the game after receiving a five-minute major penalty for ‘clipping’ Spokane forward Ethan McIndoe.
Giants head coach Jason McKee and Ronning both adamantly disagreed with the call on the ice, but the Chiefs were awarded a five-minute power play and made good on their opportunity when Woods deflected a Elynuik shot through Miner and home for his 23rd.
At that stage of the game the Chiefs had received five straight power plays, while the Giants had only one to their credit. That fact would soon change.
Dawson Holt got the Giants back within one when he ripped home his 12th on a power play at 11:31 to make the game 4-3.
All it took was a minute and 12 seconds for the Chiefs to once again restore their two-goal cushion.
The 5-3 goal came courtesy of Riley Woods who snuck behind a defender, took a Nolan Reid feed and snuck it past the blocker of Miner.
Less than two minutes later at the 14:26 mark, Tyler Popowich moved Vancouver back within a goal when he deflected a Dylan Plouffe point-shot past Dawson Weatherill.
Then, with time winding down Chiefs defenceman Ty Smith was penalized for interfering with Giants defenceman Plouffe, which set the table for Benson tie the score.
Benson’s second goal of the night (and 25th of the season) came at 17:39 off a shot from the right circle that ‘just’ snuck its way past a sprawled Weatherill and in.
The final 2:21 came and went without another goal which meant overtime for 17th time of the season for the Giants.
After failing to capitalize on a power play in overtime, the Giants were assessed a penalty with 28.6 seconds remaining in the extra period.
Miner stood tall though, and got great help from his defense in front of him. Despite a late threat from the Chiefs 65 minutes came-and-went without a winning goal, which sent the Giants to their fourth shootout of the season.
Jake McGrew shot first for Spokane and was denied by the blocker of Miner on his backhand attempt.
Benson shot first for Vancouver but was turned away by Weatherill’s blocker.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Kailer Yamamoto shot next for Spokane, but was denied on his opportunity by the rookie netminder.
Shooter number two for Vancouver was Holt and he skated quickly up the middle and then blasted a forehand shot under the glove of Weatherill and home to give Vancouver the 1-0 shootout lead.
With the game on the line the Chiefs tapped Anderson-Dolan on the back who flew up the ice in close in Miner.
Anderson-Dolan made a slick move to the backhand but Miner reached out his left hand and snagged his shout of the air, securing the Giants come-from-behind victory.
Final shots were 34-29 for the Chiefs who finished the game two-for-six on the power play. The Giants power play went three-for-five.
With the win the Giants (35-24-6-3) improved their road record to 15-12-4-2 and are now 2-1 on their current four-game trip.
The Chiefs record now sits at 39-23-3-3.
The victory gives the Giants 79 points on the season and moves them back within three points of second place in the B.C. Division while holding a game in hand on Victoria.
With four games remaining in their regular season the Giants will now head back toKennewick, Wash. for another showdown with the Tri-City Americans tonight from the Toyota Center.