Vancouver, B.C. – Friday night in Brandon, MB the Vancouver Giants (4-5-1-1) fell just short in a 6-5 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings (8-3-0-1). The two teams combined for seven power play goals and even though the Giants trailed 5-2 after 40 minutes, they never quit, twice getting back within one goal. Kale Clague led the Brandon attack with three goals and an assist while Ty Ronning responded with three goals and an assist of his own on his 20th birthday. Dylan Plouffe had the other two goals for Vancouver who fall to 2-2-1-1 on their current seven-game road swing.
After 20 minutes the score was 1-1 with each team recording a goal on a five-on-three power play. Ty Ronning converted his first of three goals on the night at 11:28 to put the Giants ahead 1-0. Back came the Wheat Kings with an equalizer late in the first off the stick of Kale Clague. Clague’s goal came at 15:36. Shots were even at 10-10 after one.
Early in the second period the Wheat Kings made it 2-1 when Stelio Mattheos snapped home his 10th of the season on a power play at 1:43. But the Giants responded at 12:02 when Ty Ronning pounced on a Matt Barberis rebound and stuffed it past Brandon netminder Logan Thompson.
Shortly after the 2-2 goal, Vancouver got into more penalty trouble and the Wheat Kings made them pay. At 1 3:38 Clague converted his second five-on-three power play goal of the game off a shot from the right point that beat Giants goaltender David Tendeck. 44 seconds later WHL scoring leader Ty Lewis got in on the act when he notched his eighth of the season, also on the power play to make it 4-2. Kale Clague then snagged his hat-trick goal with 22 seconds remaining in the second period to stake the Wheat Kings to a 5-2 lead through two periods.
Jason McKee’s club could have easily folded the tent after 40 minutes, but instead they applied relentless offensive pressure in the early stages of the third period and were rewarded with two goals.
First Ty Ronning completed his hat-trick at the 46 second mark of the third off a Bowen Byram rebound. Then Dylan Plouffe snapped home his second of the season on a power play at 5:09 to move the Giants back within one.
From there, the Giants continued to pepper the Brandon net, but Logan Thompson made some timely stops, robbing Brayden Watts, Aidan Barfoot, Brad Morrison and James Malm on point blank chances.
With time winding down in the third Brandon caught a break when Kade Jensen’s shot from the right point deflected off Milos Roman and then knuckled underneath the cross bar and past Tendeck for his second goal of the season. Brandon led 6-4 with less than two minutes to go.
Dylan Plouffe got the Giants back within one when he snuck his second of the game through a crowd and past Thompson at 18:51. But unfortunately that’s as close as the Giants would come as Brandon held on to secure the 6-5 victory.
Vancouver outshot the Wheat Kings 34-32 and finished three-for-six on the power play. Brandon went four-for-five on their power play chances.
Up next for the Giants: The 2018 Memorial Cup Hosts, the Regina Pats tomorrow at 6:00 PM local time.
– Ty Ronning’s hat-trick marks the first for a Giant since Radovan Bondra scored three times against Prince Albert in November, 2016. It was the second hat-trick of Ronning’s WHL career.
– The Giants have now scored the first goal in four straight games dating back to October 14th in Moose Jaw.
– Friday’s game marked the first two-goal game of Dylan Plouffe’s WHL career.