Surrey's Jakob Stukel celebrates a goal for the Vancouver Giants against the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night.

First loss at home for Giants

WHL team splits games at Pacific Coliseum, sits in third place in B.C. Division

A third-period rally fell short, and left the Vancouver Giants with a loss on home ice for the first time this season.

The Western Hockey League team dropped a 6-4 decision to the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night at the Pacific Coliseum, dropping the Giants to .500 on the season with a 4-4-2 (won-lost-tiebreaker loss) record. Vancouver remains in third place in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Prince George Cougars and four back of the Kelowna Rockets.

Against a Red Deer team that leads the Central Division standings, the Giants were playing catch-up for most of Saturday night. Red Deer outshot the Giants 19-3 in the opening period and the Rebels led 2-0 after 20 minutes.

They were up 3-0 before Vancouver’s offense began to click. Surrey’s Jakob Stukel got the home team on the board with an unassisted goal midway through the second period, then Jackson Houck on the powerplay and Popoff three minutes later each scored to tie the game 3-3.

It took Red Deer just 23 seconds to regain the lead, but 15 seconds after that, Ty Ronning of Burnaby evened the count at 4-4.

The Rebels would steal the win with a go-ahead goal with 2:23 to goal, then added an empty-net score with just 13 seconds remaining.

Vancouver outshot Red Deer 20-14 over the final 40 minutes.

The Giants split their two home games last weekend, their victory coming Friday night with a 2-1 decision over the Tri-City Americans.

Tri-City struck first with a powerplay goal eight minutes into the game. Brian Williams was the goal scorer, with Parker Bowles and Cloverdale native Parker Wotherspoon getting the assists.

The Giants pulled even 10 minutes later when Carter Popoff finished off a three-on-one break. Vancouver got the winning goal on the powerplay with less than four minutes to play in the second period when Slovakia’s Radovan Bondra beat Tri-City goalie Nicholas Sanders for his fourth goal of the season.

Tri-City pulled Sanders with just under two minutes to play, but despite some pressure, couldn’t beat Giants goalie Payton Lee, who made a couple of impressive saves over the final 90 seconds to preserve the win.

The Giants again play twice at home in the Pacific Coliseum next weekend, hosting the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday night at 7:30 p.m., then facing off aginast the Prince George Cougars Sunday at 2 p.m. Seattle leads the U.S. Division with a 5-1-1 record, while the Cougars are 3-4-0 and are chasing the Giants for third place in the B.C. Division.

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