Vancouver, B.C. – In front of their largest Langley Events Centre crowd of the season, the Vancouver Giants did not disappoint on Saturday night. In front of 4753 strong, the Vancouver Giants earned a 3-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets thanks to some offensive heroics from James Malm and some timely goaltending from David Tendeck. Malm broke open a 2-2 tie with his WHL-leading ninth game-winner at 8:35 and David Tendeck did the rest making 28 saves on 30 shots fired his way to back-stop the Giants to their 25th victory of the season. Ty Ronning helped the Giants cause with his 40th goal of the season, becoming the fifth Giant to ever reach the 40-goal mark. Not to be outdone was Owen Hardy who chimed in with a goal and an assist for the G-Men who are now unbeaten in regulation in their last nine games.
The first 20 minutes yielded no offense on either side. Kelowna outshot the Giants 10-9, but they were aided by three straight power plays which came up empty.
Kelowna stormed out the gates in the second period and drew first blood when Connor Bruggen-Cate snapped home a Kole Lind pass from the high slot for his 10th of the season. The Bruggen-Cate marker came at the 3:50 mark.
Vancouver struggled for the first 10 minutes of the second as Kelowna clogged the neutral-zone and didn’t allow the Giants to gain much traction offensively. Shots at one point were 17-9 for the Rockets.
All of that changed when the Giants were awarded their first power play at the 9:06 mark of the second period.
Owen Hardy parked himself in front of the Kelowna goal and off a James Malm feed from the right-wing boards he whacked home his 10th of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
A minute and 12 seconds later Vancouver took the lead when Ty Ronning snuck through the Rockets defense and placed a shot on goal. James Porter made the initial save, but Ronning fought his way to his own rebound and backhanded it home to become the second 40-goal scorer in the WHL in 2017-18.
From there the Giants continued to apply pressure, and had numerous chances in the later stages of the second to pad their lead. James Porter stood his ground though for the Rockets and made some clutch saves to keep his team within striking distance. Shots after two were 20-18 favoring Kelowna but the Giants held a 2-1 lead.
3:49 into the final period the Rockets caught a break when off the rush, Leif Mattson’s centering attempt caromed off a Giants defenceman and past David Tendeck to the game at 2-2.
Kelowna feasted off their momentum and made a big push in the next few minutes, but David Tendeck made his best sequence of saves off Braydyn Chizen and Kole Lind in succession to keep the game locked at 2-2.
Back came the Giants with some pressure of their own, and the new look trio of Davis Koch, Dawson Holt and James Malm would eventually combine on the game-winning goal at the 8:35 mark of the final stanza.
Koch started the play from his own blueline when he fed Dawson Holt on a cross-ice feed from the left-wing boards. Holt crossed the blueline two-on-one with Malm and placed a perfect pass onto his forehand and he made no mistake from there.
Malm one-timed Holt’s pass by a diving Porter to give the Giants a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish. For Malm it was his 17th of the season and his league-leading ninth game-winning goal.
From there David Tendeck and the Giants did the rest, keeping the Kelowna Rockets offensive attack at bay. Final shots were 30-26 favoring the Rockets who went zero-for-four on the power play. Vancouver went one-for-two on their power play chances.
With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 25-14-4-2. Their season series record against the Rockets is now 2-1-1-0 and they remain unbeaten in regulation in their last nine, and also through their first seven games of 2018. Following Saturday’s game the Giants trail the Rockets by one point for top spot in the B.C. Division and the Western Conference.
Up next for Vancouver: The Victoria Royals on Friday, January 19th at 7:30 PM at the LEC.
– With his second period goal, Ty Ronning became the fifth Giant to score 40 goals in a season. He joins Evander Kane (48 in 2008-09), Brendan Gallagher (44 in 2010-11 and 41 in 2009-10), Jordan Martinook (40 in 2011-12) and Adam Courchaine (43 in 2002-03).
– With a goal and an assist Saturday, James Malm extended his point-streak to nine games. Over his past nine games, Malm has notched four goals and nine assists for 13 points.
– In his Giants debut, 19-year-old forward Davis Koch finished with an assist and a +1 rating.
– Since December 1st, David Tendeck has compiled a record of 11-1-1-0 in a span of 14 starts.