The Vancouver Giants snapped out of a slump last weekend, posting two impressive victories to gain a bit of ground in the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) playoff race.
The Giants, who had lost six of their previous seven games following a run of 11-5-2 (win-loss-overtime loss), edged the Kamloops Blazers 4-3 in overtime Friday night in Kamloops, then doubled the league-leading Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-2 Saturday night in the Pacific Coliseum.
Vancouver is now six points back of the Spokane Chiefs in a race for a wild-card playoff position in the Western Conference.
The Giants took the lead three times in regulation time against the Kamloops Blazers, but each time their B.C. Division opponents tied the game.
Vancouver opened the scoring with a goal from Ben Thomas nine minutes into the game, with the Blazers responding three minutes later to tie the score.
Chase Lang tallied at the 17-minute mark of the second period by deflecting a point shot from Brennan Menell, but the lead lasted just 95 seconds before Kamloops knotted the score at 2-2.
In the third period, Surrey native Trevor Cox netted his ninth goal of the season, tipping in a Menell shot 75 seconds into the third period. The Blazers again drew even six minute later.
In overtime, neither team could score in the five-minute, three-on-three session until Ty Ronning scored on a pass from Lang with just two seconds remaining.
Ryan Kubic picked up the win in the Vancouver goal, stopping 36 of 39 shots. The Giants fired 44 pucks at Kamloops netminder Connor Ingram.
On home ice Saturday night, the Hurricanes had built a 2-0 lead 15 minutes into the second period, but it was all Giants after that.
Cox scored a powerplay goal to get the home team on the scoreboard two minutes after Lethbridge’s second tally, then Alec Baer tied the game two minutes later.
In the third period, Vancouver outshot Lethbridge 15-5, and got a winning goal by Lang at the 10-minute mark. Menell added an insurance goal into an empty net with 35 seconds to play. Menell also had a pair of two assists, running his season total to 30, second among Giants scorers and ninth among WHL defencemen.
The Giants will play three times on home ice at the Pacific Coliseum over the next five days, starting with a home game tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. against Spokane, the team they are chasing for a playoff position.
The Calgary Hitmen are the visitors Friday at 7 p.m., followed by the Edmonton Oil Kings Monday (Family Day) afternoon at 2 p.m.