Vancouver, B.C. – Saturday night in Victoria, B.C. the Vancouver Giants dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Victoria Royals. With 36 seconds left in the game, Ty Ronning buried his second of the night on a power play to tie the game 3-3. But 26 seconds later Royals forward Dino Kambeitz restored Victoria’s lead on a breakaway goal that came with 10 seconds left in regulation. Kambeitz finished the game with two goals for the Royals, as did Tyler Soy. Ty Ronning had two of three markers for Vancouver while Brayden Watts had the other tally. The Giants got 38 saves on 42 shots faced from 16-year-old rookie netminder Trent Miner who was named the game’s second star for his efforts in just his second career WHL start.
Territorially the first period belonged the Victoria Royals who outshot the Giants 19-3. Trent Miner was tested early and often, but turned aside everything fired his way. One of his biggest saves came at the 12:10 mark off a penalty-shot attempt from Royals captain Matthew Phillips. Phillips made a crafty move to the backhand, but the rookie netminder didn’t bite, and kicked out his right leg to deny the Royals leading scorer.
Period two was much more balanced as the Giants would outshot the Royals 15-14 and snagged the game’s first goal on a power play less than two minutes in. Ty Ronning parked himself in front of the Royals net and snuck a backhand rebound past Royals netminder Griffen Outhouse for his 52nd of the season and his first of two on the night.
Victoria answered at 11:57 when Dino Kambeitz raced wide on the Giants defense, cut to the front of the net and snuck a forehand past the left pad of Trent Miner. Kambeitz’ first goal of the evening came on the Royals 30th shot on goal.
Through 40 minutes the Giants and Royals remained knotted at 1-1, but the third period would prove fruitful offensively for both clubs.
Victoria grabbed their first lead of the night at 1:59 of the third when Tyler Soy snuck in close and one-timed home a feed from Matthew Phillips from behind the goal for his 31st.
Back came the Giants at 13:15 when Brayden Watts blasted his 15th of the season past Outhouse from the top of the left circle. For Watts it was his third goal in as many games and was assisted by Jared Dmytriw and Brennan Riddle.
The two teams were far from finished. At 16:06, Tyler Soy pushed Victoria ahead once again when he stuffed a Matthew Phillips rebound home from in close for his second of the night.
But with time winding down in the game, the Giants were rewarded their third power play of the game, and with their net empty managed to tie the game once again.
After winning a faceoff to the left of Outhouse, the Giants got the puck to James Malm along the right-wing boards. Malm snuck into the circle and placed a perfect cross-ice pass to Ty Ronning at the left side of the net who made no mistake. His 53rd of the season came with 36 seconds remaining in the game and overtime seemed imminent.
Unfortunately for the Giants, Victoria had one last gasp of offense left. After the Giants had forced the puck deep into the Royals zone, Royals defenceman Ralph Jarratt gathered the puck, skated up the middle and placed a perfect pass onto the stick of Dino Kambeitz who had snuck behind the Giants defense.
From there, Kambeitz raced in alone on Miner and placed a low shot through the legs and home to send the crowd of 5816 into a frenzy. The Giants simply didn’t have enough time to respond.
Victoria finished the game with a 42-27 edge in shots. Vancouver ended up winning the special-teams battle going two-for-three on the power play and one-for-one on the penalty kill.
With Saturday’s set-back the Giants record now sits at 31-19-5-3. They now trail the Royals by five points for second place in the B.C. Division but still hold three games in hand. The Royals are one point shy of Kelowna for first in the division but have played in two more games.