Rookie defenceman Bowen Byram can add his name to the list of Vancouver Giants Teddy Bear Toss goal scorers. Byram’s power play point shot at 11:31 of the third period broke open a scoreless tie and helped lead the Giants to what would end up as a 2-0 home-ice victory over the Prince George Cougars Sunday at the Langley Events Centre. Ty Ronning also scored for the G-Men while goaltender David Tendeck earned his sixth consecutive victory in goal with a 40 save shutout. It marked the sixth straight win for the Giants and their eighth in a span of nine games.
Playing their third game in less than three full days, both teams traded scoring chances through the first 20 minutes. David Tendeck was sharp for the Giants while Cougars starter Tavin Grant was equally impressive. Tempers flared late in the first period when a near line-brawl broke out. Matt Barberis, Jared Dmytriw, Darian Skeoch, Dawson Holt and Tyler Benson were all penalized for the Giants while Josh Anderson, Jared Bethune, Jackson Leppard and Kody McDonald received penalties for the Cougars.
From there, tempers cooled somewhat and the teams settled in to a back-and-forth game that featured plenty of top-notch saves at both ends of the ice. Prince George outshot Vancouver 16-7 in the second period, but David Tendeck stood his ground not allowing the visitors to gain the game’s first goal. Tavin Grant remained dialled in at the other side making several saves late in the second period to keep the Teddy Bears in the stands.
Mid-way through the third period the game was still scoreless as neither team could solve the opposing goaltender. The Giants caught a break when Cole Moberg was penalized for hooking which gave the Giants power play their fourth opportunity. 25 seconds later the fur would fly.
Ty Ronning started the play along the right-wing wall and fed a cross-ice pass to Matt Barberis at the left point. Barberis fed Bowen Byram waiting at the opposite point. Byram’s one-timer appeared to switch directions and snuck through Tavin Grant at the 11:31 mark to give the Giants the 1-0 lead.
Byram was mobbed by his teammates at center ice as the crowd of 4088-strong at the Langley Events Centre threw stuffed toys onto the ice. While the Michael Buble Christmas music blared in the background the Vancouver Giants and a huge gathering of helpers posed for photos and stuffed the toys into vehicles and shopping carts which were promptly removed from the ice surface. All bears from Teddy Bear Toss 2017 will be donated to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and will be given to children in need over the holiday season.
Following the 12-minute delay, the game resumed and the teams continued to trade point-blank scoring chances. Every time the Cougars got a good look though David Tendeck had the answer. He finished the game with 40 saves to earn his second career WHL shutout and his second shutout in a span of 15 days.
Ty Ronning clinched the victory for the Giants with an empty-net goal which came with exactly one-minute remaining in the third period. Ronning’s 32nd of the season marks a new career high for him – A total that only took him 35 games this season.
An exhausted group of Vancouver Giants mobbed their goaltender and saluted the crowd when the final horn sounded. The victory and the recent run of success gives the Giants a lot to feel good about as they head into a week-long and well deserved holiday break.
With the victory the Vancouver Giants improved their record to 18-13-2-2 through 35 games. They head into the break just three points back of third place in the B.C. Division.
The Vancouver Giants return to action on Wednesday, December 27th at home against the Everett Silvertips. That game goes at 7:00 PM at the Langley Events Centre.