Vancouver, B.C. – Over the past 48 hours the Vancouver Giants (2-4-1-1) have taken the two top teams in the Eastern Conference to the limit. Saturday night at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw the Giants erased a 3-1 second period deficit in what ultimately ended up as a 4-3 overtime loss against the Moose Jaw Warriors (7-1-0-0). Jayden Halbgewachs struck 52 seconds into the extra period to secure the Warriors victory while Brett Howden chipped in with three helpers. Brayden Watts led the Giants attack with two goals while Milos Roman had two assists.
Less than 24 hours removed from a tough 1-0 loss in Swift Current, the Giants started strong. At 3:11 of the opening period former Warrior Brayden Watts tipped home a Kaleb Bulych point shot past Warriors netminder Brody Willms and in for his first of two goals on the night.
Warriors d-man Jett Woo responded for Moose Jaw at 12:26 when his shot from the right point snuck through a maze of bodies and past Giants goaltender Todd Scott. Scott would finish the game with 28 saves on 32 shots faced and has earned a point for his team in back-to-back starts.
After 20 minutes the shots were 8-6 Vancouver and the score was 1-1.
Early in the middle period the Warriors grabbed the lead when Justin Almeida took a pass from Brett Howden and snapped a quick shot past Scott’s blocker. Almeida’s fifth came at 2:57 and was followed by a Brayden Burke power play strike at 10:24 to make it a 3-1 game.
Jason McKee’s team dug their heels in though and fought back with two of their own.
First it was Brayden Watts who knocked home his second of the night (at 12:09) into a wide-open net off a great rush with Dawson Holt and Brendan Semchuk.
Then in the waning minutes of second the Giants got some puck luck when Dylan Plouffe’s shot from the left point deflected past Willms off a Moose Jaw defender standing in front. Plouffe’s goal came at 18:35 and marked the first goal of the season courtesy of a Giants defenceman.
Shots were 23-19 for the Warriors through two and the score was 3-3, which is how things would stay through the final 20 minutes.
Both Brody Willms and Todd Scott made great saves for their respective teams. Scott’s best sequence of saves came off Justin Almeida and Brett Howden who each had chances in close.
For the second time in three games, 60 minutes weren’t enough and the Giants would need overtime to determine their fate.
52 seconds into the extra period Warriors forward Jayden Halbgewachs raced up the ice down the right wing, beat the defending Giant wide and after cutting to his forehand in front of the Giants goal had just enough space near the left post to sneak home a shot past a diving Scott.
The final shots were 32-26 for the Warriors who went one-for-four on their power play chances. Vancouver went zero-for-two on their man-advantage opportunities.
The single point means that the Giants have earned at least a point in four of their past six games and each of their past four games have been decided by a single goal.
Up next for Vancouver: The Prince Albert Raiders (3-4-1-0) on Tuesday at 6:00 PM at the Art Hauser Centre.
– Brayden Watts now leads the Giants with six goals in eight games. He’s recorded at least a point in six of his past seven games.
– Defenceman Kaleb Bulych recorded his first WHL point – An assist on Watts’ first period goal. He finished the game with a +2 rating.
– Milos Roman’s two assists now put him tied for fourth in rookie scoring (2G, 5A, 7PTS).