The Vancouver Giants are off the schnide.
The G-Men picked up their first victory of the Western Hockey League season with a wildly entertaining 6-3 win over the still-winless Kamloops Blazers Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Giants had nowhere to go but up going in, after opening their Western Hockey League season 0-2 after back-to-back losses to the Victoria Royals last weekend — and being outscored 13-2 in the process.
The Blazers were also looking for their first win of the campaign after dropping both games of their home-and-home, season-opening series to the Kelowna Rockets.
Ty Ronning, who scored twice and was named the game’s first star, said getting into the win column is huge for the team’s confidence.
“We battled it out tonight,” Ronning said. “There were some things we have to work on, and we’re going to go back to the drawing board and adjust and go from there, but overall, I felt like it was a strong game by all of us.”
Ronning said that if the Giants remain focused on their long-term goal, making the WHL playoffs, the team will be successful.
“The fans deserve it, our owners deserve playoffs, and we’re going to run with it,” Ronning said.
The Giants struck first 1:21 into the opening frame as Owen Hardy banged in a loose puck at the side of the net, after defenceman Bowen Byram drove to the puck to the crease.
It took all of 18 seconds for the Blazers to respond, with left winger Nic Holowko shoveling in a nifty backhand high over the shoulder of Giants goalie David Tendeck from a tough angle.
The Giants took control late in the first period with back-to-back goals off the sticks of Brayden Watts (on a Vancouver power play) and Milos Roman, both firing well-placed wrist shots that whistled past Kamloops goaltender Dylan Ferguson.
The Giants kept on rolling in the middle frame. Ronning’s first of two goals on the night gave the home team a 4-1 lead midway through the second period.
The lead was cut in half late in the period when the Blazers’ Garrett Pilon muscled past a Giants’ defender and busted loose on a shorthanded breakaway, moving in alone before beating Tendeck in close.
Pilon wasn’t finished. Before the third period was a minute-and-a-half old, Pilon moved in alone in front of the net, from the side boards and tucked a backhander past Tendeck for his second of the night to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
That’s as close as the visitors would come, and Ronning was a big part of stifling the comeback attempt.
The nicest goal of the night was scored at the 5:30 mark of the third period when Ronning one-timed a cross-ice feed from linemate Brad Morrison into the back of the net. The goal gave the Giants’ two-goal lead back and with it, much needed momentum.
Morrison then salted the game away with a one-timer that sailed past Ferguson to make the final score 6-3.
Giants head coach Jason McKee said all-around, it was a fine effort by his troops.
“Our energy was good all night,” McKee said.
The G-Men’s bench boss continued, “It’s huge. We needed a win tonight. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We needed a win tonight, we got it, and it’s huge for this group moving forward to next weekend.”
The Giants host the Tri-City Americans back-to-back next Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7 at the LEC. Friday’s game gets underway at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game has a 7 p.m. start time.