In had the makings of a one-sided affair after 20 minutes.
The visiting Saskatoon Blades got a goal and an assist from top prospect Kirby Dach for a 3-1 lead over the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday night at Langley Events Centre. But it was all Vancouver the rest of the way, as the G-Men scored four unanswered goals to win 5-3, a third consecutive victory.
The Giants improved to 17-6-2-0 while Saskatoon dropped to 15-9-2-0 in a battle of two of the Western Hockey League’s top-five teams.
“They have a lot of firepower up in their top six and that was our focus coming into this game,” said defenceman Dylan Plouffe. “And we know how we can play and how should be playing and that wasn’t us (in the first period).”
Trailing 2-0 after surrendering goals 1:23 apart to Dach and Josh Paterson, Owen Hardy got the Giants on the board at 8:57 of the first, with Jared Dmytriw’s centring pass banking in off his skate. But 59 seconds later, it was a two-goal lead once again for the Saskatoon visitors as Max Gerlach beat David Tendeck.
Head coach Michael Dyck said there was no special message at the first intermission.
“Just a subtle reminder of who we are,” he said with a smile. “In the first period, we were individuals and we were slow. In the second and third, we played fast and as a team.”
Davis Koch snuck in from the point to score into a wide-open net on an early second-period power play and Aidan Barfoot scored on a rebound less than two minutes later to knot the score at three.
The goal was Barfoot’s first of the season and came in his return to the line-up after missing the previous 22 games.
The score stayed tied at three for the next 20 minutes when Milos Roman banged home the Giants second power-play goal of the contest and Koch iced it with an empty-netter in the final minute.
Tendeck finished with 23 saves, stopping the final 17 shots he faced.
And as has been the case over the past six games – a span in which Vancouver is 4-2 – the Giants were on the positive side of the special teams battle, going 2-for-3 with the man advantage while blanking the Blades in all three of their opportunities.
Vancouver is 10-for-32 (31.25 per cent) over that span while their penalty kill has only allowed three goals in 31 chances (9.68 per cent). By comparison, the Giants had 13 power-play goals over their first 19 games.
“We are playing faster. We haven’t changed anything, we have just changed our mindset. We are still running the same power play, we still have the same guys on the power play, they are just working together,” Dyck said. “They are playing faster and letting the puck do the work for them. We are doing a
good job of getting the puck to the net and we are finding sticks and finding screens and keeping it simple.”
Entering the game, the top four Saskatoon scoring leaders on the season were all ahead of the top Giant point-getter.
Koch and Roman entered the game tied for the team lead with 23 points, but Koch pulled ahead with two goals and an assist in the game while Roman had one goal, one assist. Koch also extended his point streak to six games and he has five goals and eight assists over that span.
With an assist, Plouffe also extended his point streak to six games. He also finished +2 and leads all Giants at +9 for the season.
Next up for the Giants is a road game in Kelowna against the Rockets on Wednesday, November 28. The team returns for a pair of weekend games, Saturday night at Pacific Coliseum for BCLC Memories of the Coliseum Night before a 4 p.m. matinee the next day back at Langley Events Centre. That game will see the team honour former captain Craig Cunningham by placing him on the Wall of Honour.