Friday night at the Save on Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, the Vancouver Giants earned a hard-fought 2-1 road victory over the Victoria Royals in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference playoff matchup. Milos Roman and Matt Barberis scored second period goals for the Giants while rookie Trent Miner turned aside 40 of the 41 shots fired his way by the Royals to earn the victory in goal and first-star honors. Tanner Kaspick responded with Victoria’s lone tally.
A minute and 15 seconds into the game 20-year-old defenceman Darian Skeoch collided with Royals forward Dino Kambeitz. Kambeitz was helped off the ice and initially no penalty was called on the play. After gathering together to discuss the play, the officials reversed their decision and handed Skeoch a five-minute major and a game-misconduct. The Royals did not score on their five-minute power play and finished the night zero-for-four on their power play chances.
Later in the period at 12:07, former Victoria Royal Jared Dmytriw was hooked up on a breakaway which resulted in a penalty shot. Dmytriw’s attempt was denied by Royals starter Griffen Outhouse who finished the game with 31 saves on 33 shots faced.
Neither team could solve the other in the opening period as the shots slightly favored Victoria 14-13 after one.
5:48 into the second period, Milos Roman put the Giants up 1-0 when he followed up a Ty Ronning shot and knocked home a rebound past a sprawled Outhouse. James Malm added an assist on Roman’s first career WHL playoff goal.
Tanner Kaspick answered for Victoria at 11:36 when he beat Miner on a high shot from the slot. Dante Hannoun and Matthew Phillips both drew assists.
Late in the second period though the Giants answered with what ended up as the game-winning goal. Off a failed clear, the puck ended up on the stick of 20-year-old Brennan Riddle at the left-wing point. Riddle’s low shot deflected off Matt Barberis and past Outhouse at the 18:45 mark to give the Giants the 2-1 advantage. Shots through two were 27-25 for Victoria.
Trent Miner was peppered by 14 shots in the third period for Victoria, but had an answer for all of them. His best sequence of saves came off a trio of shorthanded Victoria chances from Matthew Phillips and Tanner Kaspick. Collectively the Giants defended well in front of Miner in the later stages of the game and when the final horn sounded the Giants had earned themselves a 2-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
The final shots were 41-33 for the Royals. Vancouver went zero-for-four on their power play chances and a perfect four-for-four killing penalties.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series between the two clubs takes place on Saturday at 7:05 PM.