Special teams and goaltending are crucial elements to victory and the Vancouver Giants won both those battles to win for the second straight game tonight.
The Giants scored a power-play goal and their penalty kill held Victoria scoreless in nine attempts – including 1:16 of a two-man advantage – to power past the Victoria Royals by a 4-1 final score on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre.
Milos Roman struck on the power-play in the first period while Davis Koch and Jared Dmytriw – the latter goal coming shorthanded – made it 3-0 after 40 minutes. Justin Sourdif made it 4-0 before Victoria’s Tanner Sidaway ruined Trent Miner’s shutout bid with less than four minutes to play.
The Giants improved to 16-6-2-0 and extended their lead atop the Western Hockey League’s B.C. division to 10 points over the second-place Royals (12-8-0-0).
“We won the special teams battle. We shut down their power play and ours got that goal and generated some chances and some momentum,” Koch said. “It takes a little luck too, a couple of bounces, here and there, and some key saves, that is how you do it.”
Koch said the key was the team being able to keep Victoria to the perimeter for their majority of their man advantage opportunities. And when they did get a quality shot off, Miner was there to make the stop as he finished with 26 saves. He sits second in the league with a 1.60 goals against average and .944 save percentage.
And the bounces were working for the Giants, as evidenced by Dmytriw’s goal.
With Vancouver down a man, the captain stole the puck for a partial breakaway, but as he drove the net, he lost the handle on the puck, but it still managed to slip past Royals goalie Griffen Outhouse.
Roman and Koch each finished with a goal and an assist and are tied for the team scoring lead with 23 points. And Koch is now riding a five-game point streak, with 10 points in that span.
“Just putting the puck on the net,” he said about his recent surge in points, which also includes shooting the puck more. During his five-game run, Koch has fired 19 shots on goal. By comparison, he had 48 shots in his first 19 games.
“Just like my goal there, they aren’t always pretty. Just realizing every shot has a chance to go in,” Koch said about a harmless looking shot from the face-off dot which got past Outhouse.
Next up for the Giants is another home game, Tuesday night (Nov. 27) as they host the Saskatoon Blades. Puck drop is 7 p.m.