Bowen Byram must have been happy to be home.
Playing their first game at Langley Events Centre in 27 days, Byram scored twice and set up three other goals – setting a new Vancouver Giants single-game record for defenceman in the process – as the Giants defeated the visiting Kamloops Blazers 7-4 on Saturday night in Western Hockey League action.
“Everything I touched just seemed to end up in the back of the net,” offered Byram on his historic night.
The game’s first star also downplayed his night which now puts him at 12 goals and 26 assists for 38 points in 39 games. That puts him sixth among all WHL defencemen.
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But judging by the comments, you would be hard pressed to believe Vancouver had won the game.
“Tonight definitely wasn’t our best night. We scored timely goals, we scored when we had opportunities, but it could have easily gone the other way,” Byram said. “Trent (Miner) made some huge saves early in the game.
“It felt like we couldn’t totally find our legs, find our game all game (except) for spurts in the second period.”
“He was our catalyst, he was our best player. He took advantage of his opportunities in the first period. He was ready to play, he was on his toes, had a lot of energy and we fed off that,” said Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck.
The Giants wasted little time getting on the board on Saturday night with Byram burying a rebound 2:32 into the contest. Jermaine Loewen tied things up less than a minute later as his shot off a face-off snuck through Miner. Byram and Milos Roman then gave Vancouver the lead for good with goals 2:54 apart, although Travis Walton did cut the deficit to one for the visitors prior to intermission.
But the second period was all Vancouver, as they scored three goals in the opening 3:39 and then tacked on a fourth on a beautiful redirection from Davis Koch. Justin Sourdif, Tristen Nielsen and Brayden Watts had the first three.
Kamloops’ Kobe Mohr (on the power play) and Loewen with his second had the only goals of the final frame.
Dyck liked his team’s middle 20 minutes as they outshot the Blazers 18-10 and were full marks for their four goals. But he didn’t particularly care for his team’s performance in the face-off circle – Kamloops won 33 to Vancouver’s 28 – nor how many opportunities they gave up in the final period.
He also felt the team was too soft on pucks and reaching.
“When we are playing our best hockey, we are playing fast, we are playing physical and we are playing as five,” he said. “We have to feed off the energy we had in the second period and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Giants are back in action on Sunday as they host the Victoria Royals at LEC at 4 p.m. in a battle of the top two teams in the B.C. Division.
Vancouver (25-12-2-0, 52 points) holds a seven-point lead over the Royals (22-16-1-0, 45 points) as they meet for the seventh time this season. They will play one another three more times before the regular season ends.
In addition to Byram’s five-point performance, four other Giants also had multi-point games. Roman had a goal and three assists and Koch and Nielsen both had three points (one goal, two assists). Brayden Watts finished with a goal and an assist.
And Byram and Alex Kannok Leipert both finished the game at +5.
Miner made 24 saves in goal for the Giants with Dylan Ferguson allowing five goals on 15 shots and Dylan Garand stopping 21 of 23 for the Blazers.
The crowd of 4,244 was the largest of the season at LEC.
Photos courtesy of Rik Fedyck/ Vancouver Giants