Vancouver, B.C. – Heading into the final two minutes of the game down a goal to the Seattle Thunderbirds the Vancouver Giants needed their top players to rise to the occasion, and rise they did. With the Giants net empty, Ty Ronning tied the game with a minute and 26 seconds remaining, then captain Tyler Benson buried the overtime winner with a minutes and 27 seconds left to lift the Giants to a 4-3 overtime victory over the defending WHL champs. The Giants never led for a single second of the 60-plus minutes Tuesday, but found a way to earn their 11th victory of the season. Rookie goaltender Todd Scott turned aside 36 of the 39 shots fired his way for the Giants who went two-for-three on the power play and four-for-four killing penalties. Noah Philp and Jarret Tyszka responded with two points each for Seattle.
Seattle wasted no time getting things started offensively. Zack Andrusiak struck pay dirt for the T-Birds just a minute and 42 seconds into the game off a failed clear and the Giants quickly found themselves down 1-0.
Mid-way through the first though it was a pair of rookies that got the Giants back even. 17-year-old Cyle McNabb was denied twice by Seattle starter Matt Berlin, but 16-year-old forward Aidan Barfoot charged hard to the net and knocked home the rebound for his second of the season.
A few shifts later the Thunderbirds came awfully close to making it 2-1, but Todd Scott made an improbable glove save off Matthew Wedman who appeared to have the wide-open net at his disposal.
Shots were 15-8 for Seattle after one, but the score was tied 1-1.
Seattle took their second lead of the night at 8:33 of the second period when Montreal Canadiens prospect Jarret Tyszka took a pass in the left circle and slipped a backhand shot past Scott for his third of the season.
James Malm and Ty Ronning both had ‘Grade A’ chances for the Giants in the back-half of the second to tie the game, but Matt Berlin wouldn’t allow it and the T-Birds took a 2-1 lead into the final period.
Despite some recent struggles for the Giants, the power play has remained a constant as of late, and it paid off yet again at 5:24 of the third. From the right-wing side of the ice, Brad Morrison feathered a perfect pass across the ice to the streaking Milos Roman who one-timed home the feed for his seventh of the season.
Back came the visitors at the 8:34 mark. Noah Philp skated across the Giants blueline and let a long shot go that snuck its way through Todd Scott and in and give Seattle their third lead of the night.
Cue up some further power play heroics from the Giants. With their net empty and time winding down, James Malm kept the puck in at the Seattle blueline. He then found Tyler Benson along the right-wing. Benson spun and centered the puck to Ty Ronning who was robbed on his initial attempt, but had the presence of mind to stick with the play and bang home his rebound for his team-leading 25th goal of the season. Three deficits, three answers from the Giants.
Despite a late push from Seattle the Giants held their ground and for the second time in as many games between the two teams, overtime would be needed.
Vancouver captain Tyler Benson ended the game at the 3:33 mark of the extra period when he rushed into the Seattle zone from his own blueline, cut to the middle and fired a quick, low shot that fooled Matt Berlin. Benson’s ninth of the season sent the Langley Events Centre crowd into a frenzy as they celebrated the Giants second overtime victory of the season and their 11th victory of the season. Benson finished the game with a goal and an assist and was named the game’s first star.
The victory moves the Giants overall record to 11-12-2-2. It also means that they sit four points ahead of the Prince George Cougars for third place in the B.C. Division standings. Fittingly the Giants will face the Cougars twice this weekend up north in Prince George beginning on Friday night at 7:00 PM at CN Centre.
– Tyler Benson’s OT winner marked the second of his WHL career. His previous overtime winner came last season in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes on October 14, 2016.
– Benson has points in five straight games. During that span he’s recorded five goals and four assists for nine points.
– The Giants power play is now 16 for its last 38 (42%) – A span of 10 games.