Vancouver, B.C. – Friday night at the Langley Events Centre the Vancouver Giants (5-8-1-2) dropped a 5-4 decision to the Kamloops Blazers (5-11-0-0) in heart-breaking fashion. Garrett Pilon’s second goal of the game came with 16 seconds remaining in regulation on a power play, snapping a 4-4 tie and securing the fifth victory in seven games for the visiting Blazers. Earlier in the third period the Giants had struck twice, forcing a comeback from a 4-2 deficit. Brad Morrison had two goals and an assist for the Giants while Ty Ronning chipped in with a goal and two assists. Rookie Max Palaga earned his first career WHL victory in goal for Kamloops stopping 23 of the 27 shots fired his way.
Blazers forward Quinn Benjafield grabbed the game’s first goal at 5:15 of the opening period. The 19-year-old parked himself in front of the Giants net and knocked home a Brodi Stuart rebound for his third of the season.
Mid-way through the period the Giants countered with two quick strikes of their own in a span of 69 seconds. First it was 20-year-old Brad Morrison who stuffed home a Ty Ronning rebound on the power play at 10:23. The Giants power play finished one-for-four on the night. Dawson Holt then one-timed a Brendan Semchuk pass by the left arm of Palaga at 11:32 to give the Giants a 2-1 lead which they took into the first intermission. Shots were 13-6 for Vancouver after one.
Don Hay’s Blazers responded with three unanswered goals in the second period. The first one game just a minute and 29 seconds in courtesy of forward Luc Smith who redirected home a point shot from Sean Strange. Garrett Pilon then buried his first goal of the night off a two-on-one rush with Jermaine Loewen at 4:14 to regain the lead for Kamloops. Loewen then got into the goal scoring act at 11:13 when he tipped home his third of the season off a shot from Ondrej Vala from the left-wing circle. Shots were 19-17 Vancouver through two periods but they trailed 4-2.
With time winding down in the third period, the Vancouver Giants kick-started their comeback when Brad Morrison one-timed home a Ty Ronning pass from the high slot past the glove of Max Palaga at 12:53. Morrison’s second of the game came on his first shift back after serving a 10-minute major penalty for a mouth guard infraction.
With two minutes and 30 seconds to go, Ty Ronning for the second time in the span of a week, scored a game-tying goal for the Giants in the dying minutes of a game to force a tied game. Ronning’s goal came off the rush and was assisted by both Milos Roman and Brad Morrison.
With overtime looming, the Giants were penalized at the 18:09 mark of the third and Kamloops Blazers made them pay. Off a faceoff win, Garrett Pilon let a low shot go from the right point that snuck its way through traffic and through the legs of David Tendeck. The goal stood as the game winner and came with only 16 seconds remaining in regulation time.
The final shots were 27-22 favoring the Giants who are now winless in their last four games, all of which have been decided by a single goal.
The good news for the Giants is that they’ll get a shot at redemption tomorrow night when this B.C. Division home-and-home series shifts to the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.