Disappointing – that was a word repeated multiple times by head coach Michael Dyck in summing up his team’s efforts on Monday afternoon at home.
The Vancouver Giants were hosting the Portland Winterhawks – a team wrapping up three games in less than 72 hours, including driving from Portland to Langley – but it was the visitors who dictated how the game would unfold.
“We had way too many passengers. When you play a team like this, you need all 20 guys going and we didn’t have that. We had a handful of guys who played at the level we needed.”
Portland won 5-3 in a battle of two of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) top three Western Conference teams and with the victory, the Winterhawks earning the season sweep. Vancouver managed just a single point from the four contests.
“This is one of the elite teams in our conference a team that we wanted to beat and we just didn’t have enough guys who wanted to beat them bad enough,” Dyck said.
“The most disappointing part of this is we put this game on a pedestal. We as coaches, we went to the drawing board pretty hard to get our team prepared for this game and I think we came up with the right game plan, it is disappointing.”
The Winterhawks led 2-0 after one period with San Jose Sharks draft pick and WHL leading scorer Joachim Blichfield striking twice, the first on a power play and latter on a delayed penalty call. Sixty seconds into the middle frame, Blichfield completed the natural hat trick, tallying his 51st of the season.
Defenceman Dallas Hines cut the deficit to two just past the seven-minute mark of the middle frame before Seth Jarvis struck again on the power play for a 4-1 lead following 40 minutes.
The Giants’ Justin Sourdif and Davis Koch had third-period scores for the home side with a Reece Newkirk goal sandwiched in between.
The victory improved Portland to 36-16-3-3 and 78 points good for second place in the U.S. division and just three back of the Giants who sit at 39-14-2-1 and 81 points.
Vancouver does have a pair of games in hand and a healthy 20-point lead atop the B.C. division with a dozen games to play in the WHL season.
And the Winterhawks could very well be a playoff opponent should both teams advance to the Western Conference finals.
Portland beat Vancouver 5-3 and 2-1 in overtime back in October when the teams played a home-and-home series.
The Winterhawks then handed Vancouver a 3-0 defeat in Portland on Feb. 1.
The Giants are 16-2-0-1 in their last 19 games, with both losses at the hands of Portland.
Up next for Vancouver is a three-game showdown with the Victoria Royals.
The teams play at Langley Events Centre on Friday night (7:30 p.m.) before finishing the weekend in Victoria.
BY THE NUMBERS
• Final score: Portland 5 – Vancouver 3
• Final shots: 31-26 Vancouver
• David Tendeck: 21/26 saves for Vancouver (19-10-1-1)
• Shane Farkas: 28/31 saves for Portland (28-10-3-3)
• Sourdif finished with a career-high three points on a goal and two assists. The 16-year-old has 17 goals and is eight away from tying Gilbert Brule’s rookie record of 25.
• Portland went 2-for-5 with the man advantage and scored on another on a delayed call. The Giants were 1-for-4.
• 3 Stars: 1) Joachim Blichfeld (POR – 3G, 1A); 2) Justin Sourdif (VAN – 1G, 2A); 3) Josh Paterson (POR – 2A)