Photos courtesy of Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre

It was an early-season showdown – and the first of 12 head-to-head contests — between the two teams considered the B.C. Division favourites but it was the visiting Kamloops Blazers scoring a decisive victory over the Vancouver Giants.

The Blazers scored a pair of power-play goals as part of a three-goal outburst in the opening 13:06 on their way to a 5-0 rout of the Giants on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre in Western Hockey League action. Kamloops improved to 5-1-0-0 while the Giants suffered their first defeat, with their record falling to 2-1-0-0. The Blazers were playing their fourth game in five nights in three cities while Vancouver had been off since last Friday. “We got out-played, we got out-smarted tonight. We need to be better. Obviously a wake-up call for the boys in the room,” summed up Giants head coach Michael Dyck. “Everything we talked about went completely in the other direction. We talked a lot about discipline and the fact they had a very good power play and we take a penalty two minutes inside the hockey game and they score.”

Vancouver took a minor penalty 1:16 into the game and 11 seconds later, they were fishing the puck out of the back of their net as Logan Stankoven’s one-timer beat Jesper Vikman. Mats Lindgren would make it 2-0 less than five minutes later. Shortly after, the Giants were poised to receive a five-minute power play after captain Justin Sourdif was belted from behind by Reese Belton. But Brenden Pentecost took an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play when he jumped Belton and while Vancouver was still in line to receive a three-minute power play, Zack Ostapchuk received a five-minute penalty for a check to the
head just 23 seconds later, negating the entire man advantage. Another Vancouver minor penalty on that power play gave the Blazers – who entered the game with the WHL’s third-ranked power play – a two-man advantage and Caedan Bankler capitalized for a 3-0 lead 13:06 into the contest.

The second period was scoreless before Nick McCarry and Dylan Sydor added third-period goals. Sydor’s score came on a two-man advantage as Kamloops finished the night 3-for-4 on the power play with two of the goals coming with the Giants a pair of men down.
“We shot ourselves in the foot so many times tonight (and) didn’t think we reacted very well throughout the entire game to adversity,” Dyck lamented. “It is tough to see that happen to your captain but we have to be more composed than that.”
Vancouver will get a second shot at the Blazers as the teams are set to meet in Kamloops on October 22 before the Giants host the Kelowna Rockets on October 23 at Langley Events Centre, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

“We are looking forward to getting another crack at them but we have to do a lot of work in the interim,” Dyck said.

The final shots on goal were 25-23 for Kamloops with the Blazers’ Dylan Garand earning first-star honours with his 23-save shutout.