Two of Ty Ronning’s three hat-tricks this season have come against the Prince George Cougar, who defeated them 4-3 in overtime Wednesday night. Now with 39 goals on the season, Ronning sits 10 goals shy of a new single-season franchise record for goals in a season. Evander Kane holds the record with 48. Ronning has 28 games remaining to try and surpass the record. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Overtime loss marks end of Vancouver Giants’ five-game road trip

The local Western Hockey League team returns home to Langley Events Centre Saturday to play Kelowna.

Jason McKee’s Vancouver Giants are coming home with nine of 10 possible points from their five-game, 10-night road trip.

Wednesday night in Prince George the Giants dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Prince George Cougars.

Ty Ronning scored all three goals for the Giants to increase his 2017-18 totals to 39, while Josh Maser responded with all four goals for Prince George, explained Giants play-by-play broadcaster Dan O’Connor.

Ronning’s third of the game for Vancouver came with 29 seconds remaining in the third period with the Giants net empty. It marked the eighth and final meeting of the regular season between the two B.C. Division foes.

How the evening unfolded

Fresh off a 5-1 victory Tuesday in Prince George the Giants were on their heels early on.

Giants starter David Tendeck was forced to make some key saves in the early minutes of the first, O’Connor explained.

Tendeck kept the Giants afloat early and Ronning rewarded his netminder with his first of three goals on the night, which came at 10:16, marking the second straight game that the Giants had scored first.

Shots were 13-11 for Prince George after one, but the Giants held the 1-0 lead.

Ronning made it 2-0 at 7:53 of the middle period when “he feasted off a favourable bounce from behind the Cougars goal,” O’Connor recounted.

Bowen Byram’s left-wing point shot went wide on Cougars starter Taylor Gauthier, but the puck caromed off the back boards perfectly onto the stick of Ronning at the side of the Prince George goal to increase Vancouver’s lead to 2-0.

Prince George answered just a minute and 24 seconds later, when Josh Maser took a Josh Curtis pass in the right circle and snuck a shot past the glove of Tendeck for his 17th of the campaign.

Maser’s goal provided the Cougars with a spark as they went on to outshoot the G-Men 15-7 in the middle period and held a 28-18 edge in shots through 40 minutes.

The score remained 2-1 for Vancouver though until the very early stages of period three.

All it took was eight seconds of third period play for the Cougars to tie it up and for a second straight time it was Maser. He skated the puck across the blueline from the left-wing and snapped a shot up and over the shoulder of Tendeck to make it 2-2.

“To their credit, the Giants held Prince George without a shot for the next 10 minutes of action, but were unable to break the 2-2 tie,” O’Connor said.

With time winding down in the third Prince George grabbed their first lead of the night when Maser, again from the left circle fired a high shot that barely snuck past Tendeck’s shoulder.

Giants 20-year-old Ronning wasn’t about to be out-done.

With less than a minute remaining and Tendeck pulled, the Giants forced the game back even when Ronning jammed a James Malm rebound past a sprawled Gauthier and in for his third of the night and 39th of the season. Ronning’s third hat-trick goal of the season came with 29 seconds remaining in regulation.

“For the 12th time this season, the Giants would need overtime to determine their fate and unfortunately for them on Wednesday Josh Maser would get the last laugh in the Maser vs. Ronning goal-scoring battle,” he said.

Off the rush, Cougars defenceman Ryan Schoettler took a pass from the slot and wired one off the crossbar. With Tendeck down and out, Maser pounced on the loose puck just outside the blue paint and backhanded home his fourth of the season into the wide-open cage to complete the Cougars 16th victory of the season.

“An exhausted Giants team skated off the ice with their heads held high having salvaged a single point, extending both their regulation unbeaten streak and their road unbeaten streak to eight straight games,” O’Connor said.

The single point improved the Giants record to 24-14-4-2.

Their 54 points ranks them second in the B.C. Division, just one point shy of Kelowna for first and four-points ahead of Victoria for second in the B.C. Division standings.

Next up for Vancouver: Some “well-deserved rest” before they battle the Kelowna Rockets at home on Saturday, marking the start of an eight-game homestand at the Langley Events Centre. This weekend’s home ice game will be the debut for newly acquired forward Davis Koch.

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