Vancouver, B.C. – Friday night at the CN Centre in Prince George the Vancouver Giants grabbed their second straight victory – A 5-3 triumph over the Prince George Cougars. Tyler Benson paced the Giants offense with two goals and an assist while Milos Roman and Dylan Plouffe each recorded two points. David Tendeck made 32 saves on the 35 shots he faced in goal to help lead the Giants back to the .500 mark on the season. Aaron Boyd countered with a pair of assists for the Cougars who got 30 saves on 34 shots faced from goaltender Tavin Grant.
The Giants penalty-kill was put to the test in the opening 20 minutes as they had to kill off three unanswered Cougars power play attempts. The penalty-killers answered the challenge thanks to some timely saves and shot blocks, and at the 13:49 mark the Giants offense struck when rookie Milos Roman knocked home a Dylan Plouffe rebound for his eighth of the season. Roman remains the top scoring rookie in the WHL having registered eight goals to go along with 18 assists for 26 points – Four points ahead of Red Deer’s Kristian Reichel.
Vancouver took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission and outshot Prince George 14-10, despite killing off the three penalties.
Period two featured five combined goals between the two sides, three of which came via the Giants. Just 37 seconds into the second period Ty Ronning extended Vancouver’s lead to 2-0 when he backhanded home his team-leading 26th goal of the season. Milos Roman and former Cougar Brad Morrison both assisted on Ronning’s goal.
Just over five minutes later the G-Men struck again when Tyler Benson parked himself in front of the Cougars goal and tipped home a Brendan Semchuk shot from the top of the right circle. Alex Kannok Leipert also earned an assist on the play as he kept the puck in at the blueline to keep the offensive possession alive. The goal from Benson was his first of two on the night and helped extend his goal-scoring streak to three straight games.
17 seconds after Benson’s goal the Cougars answered when Jared Bethune parked himself in front of the Giants goal and slipped home his eighth of the season off a pass behind the net from Dennis Cholowski.
Towards the later stages of the second period the Giants power play was finally given a chance, and it only took 15 seconds for them to capitalize. James Malm finished off a Dylan Plouffe rebound in close on a back-hand at the 13:46 mark of the period to increase Vancouver’s lead to 4-1. The Giants power play has now capitalized in four straight games and is 17 for its last 40.
Malm’s goal would eventually stand as the game-winner, but refused to go quietly.
Colorado Avalanche prospect Josh Anderson netted his first goal of the season at 18:18 of the second period to get some life back offensively for the Cougars. The Giants took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission, but all signs pointed to an exciting back-and-forth type of third period.
Despite some good chances at both ends in the first half of the period, David Tendeck and Tavin Grant stood tall for their respective teams, keeping the score at 4-2 until the late stages of the final frame.
With only three seconds remaining in a Cougars power play, and only two minutes and three seconds left on the clock, the Cougars got back within one goal when Josh Maser redirected home a pass from Brogan O’Brien in front of the Giants goal. Maser’s seventh of the season came with the Cougars net empty.
That’s as close as the Cougars would come though as Tyler Benson would end all hopes of a Cougars comeback at 19:36 when he fired home his second goal of the night and his 11th of the season into an empty net to make the score 5-3.
Both teams finished the night with 35 shots. Vancouver ended up going one-for-two on the man advantage while the Cougars countered with a one-for-five clip.
The victory in regulation for the Giants coupled with the Kamloops Blazers 3-1 loss to Everett means that the Giants now hold a four-point lead on Kamloops and a six-point lead on Prince George for third place in the B.C. Division standings.
Vancouver will now look to turn a good week into a stellar one when they once again clash with the Prince George Cougars in a rematch Saturday at 7:00 PM at the CN Centre.
– Over the course of Tyler Benson’s six-game point streak he’s managed seven goals and five assists for 12 points.
– With two assists on the night, Dylan Plouffe has now set a new season-high for points with 22.
– Friday’s game marked the first game back at CN Centre for former Cougar Brad Morrison who played 260 career games in a Cougars uniform.
– Friday’s game also marked the Giants debut for 19-year-old forward Jared Dmytriw.