Giants drew first blood in the 2019 Rogers WHL Championship Series that kicked off in Prince Albert Friday night.
Starting things off in Saskatchewn, the Lower Mainland-based Vancouver Giants earned a hard-fought 5-4 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Game 1 of the series, said head coach Michael Dyck. That puts the Giants out ahead in the series 1-0.
“I thought we played really well in the first period,” Dyck said.
“I thought it was a great start for us. The second period we got on our heels a few times, and I thought for the most part we were pretty solid in the third.”
Dawson Holt paced the Giants with two goals, while Jared Dmytriw added a goal and two assists, and Bowen Byram assisted on four of the Giants five goals.
Netminder David Tendeck stopped 25 of the Raiders 29 shots in the Giants net to secure his ninth victory of the playoffs.
Dante Hannoun responded with a goal and an assist for the Raiders who got 21 saves from Ian Scott.
The Giants went two-for-four on the power play while the Raiders went one-for-three.
For Holt, it was a big night. Not only did he score twice, but the Giants centre forward was playing before a hometown crowd of sorts.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) May 4, 2019
He described it as “super cool” to score two goals not far from where he grew up and played most of his formative hockey – before an audience full of friends and family.
“To be able to get the win out here, in front of them, was obviously super special,” he shared.
VAN – Birthday boy Dylan Plouffe opened the scoring for Vancouver at 4:20 of the first period off a blast from the right-wing point on a five-on-three power play. Byram and Milos Roman assisted on Plouffe’s fifth goal of the playoffs.
VAN – A minute and 46 seconds later Holt increased Vancouver’s lead to 2-0 when he tucked home a shot from beside the net along the right-wing side. Dmytriw’s one-timer from the left-wing went wide, but bounced off the boards behind the net right to Holt who made no mistake.
Shots: 13-10 Vancouver
PA – 3:30 into the middle frame, Brett Leason made it a 2-1 game when his shot from the left-wing circle snuck through a few sets of legs and past Tendeck for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
VAN – Back came the Giants at 5:13 when Dmytriw raced across the Raiders blueline and wired a shot past the blocker of Ian Scott and home for his eighth goal of the playoffs. Byram and Alex Kannok Leipert drew the helpers.
PA – The Raiders answered 64 seconds later when Noah Gregor snuck past the Giants defence, took a feed from Parker Kelly and snapped a shot past Tendeck for his eighth of the post-season.
PA – Hannoun tied the score at 3-3 at 16:45 when he managed to knock a puck out of the air and past Tendeck from the slot area. Parker Kelly drew the lone assist on Hannoun’s 10th goal of the playoffs.
VAN – With just 31 seconds remaining in the period the Giants took their lead back when Yannik Valenti snuck into the slot and one-timed home a feed from Davis Koch past Ian Scott’s glove for his second goal of the playoffs. Byram drew the second assist on the play to notch his third assist of the night.
VAN – Then with just 17 seconds remaining in the period, Dawson Holt was able to stuff his second of the game and seventh of the playoffs through Ian Scott from a tough angle along the right wing from beside the Raider goal. Bowen Byram’s fourth assist of the night on that play.
Shots: 11-7 Prince Albert
PA – At 2:50 of the final period the Raiders moved back within one when defenceman Jeremy Masella kept the puck in at the left point, raced wide to the right wing, cut in front of the net and stuffed home his first of the playoffs on a strong individual effort. That’s as close as the Raiders would come though as the Giants managed to maintain their one-goal lead for the remainder of the game.
Shots: 9-5 Vancouver
The Giants first two home games in the 2019 Rogers @TheWHL Championship Series will take place:
Tuesday, May 7 at 7:00 PM
Wednesday, May 8 at 7:00 PM
— xy – Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 28, 2019
• Final score: Vancouver 5 – Prince Albert 4
• Final shots: 29-26 Prince Albert
• David Tendeck: 25/29 saves for Vancouver (9-1-1)
• Ian Scott: 21/26 saves for Prince Albert (12-4-1)
• Vancouver: 2/4 on the power play
• Prince Albert: 1/3 on the power play
• The Giants have now won Game 1 in all four of their playoff series in 2019
• The Giants improved their road record to 6-1-1 in the playoffs
• During his past three games, Byram has scored two goals while adding six assists for eight points
• Holt now leads all Giants with three game winning goals during the 2019 playoffs
• The Giants power play has scored in 15 of the 16 games they’ve played so far in the playoffs
During their morning skate, a few members of the Giants team offered their thoughts and hopes.
The next game in the series happens tonight (Saturday, May 4) at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, starting at 6 p.m.
Then, the Giants returns home to challenge the Raiders at Langley Events Centre (LEC). The first game on home ice happens Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m., followed by another on Wednesday, May 8, against at 7 p.m.
If a fifth game is required, that too will be played at LEC on Friday, May 10. The puck drops on that game at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available for the hometown games in Langley by clicking here.
Meanwhile, back home, Giants fans packed the banquet room at LEC Friday night to watch the action unfold on the big screen and share their enthusiasm for the game and the team. To find out more about the relatively new Giants Boosters:
WHAT A WIN! @WHLGiants Take the 1st game of the @TheWHL Championships, 3 wins left! Proud Giants Boosters were ecstatic, and @LangleyEvents shook when we took the W. Come join us again tomorrow night, doors open 5PM, $15 BBQ Pulled Pork & Poutine for dinner! Epic door prizes too! pic.twitter.com/WmGr6biENR
— Vancouver Giants Booster Club (@GiantsBooster) May 4, 2019
• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance Times/Black Press Media for updates after each series game