Score four (or more) and win, simple as that for the Vancouver Giants this season.
The Giants improved to 19-0-0-0 when scoring at least four goals, winning for a fifth straight game as they defeated the Prince George Cougars 5-2 on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre in Western Hockey League action.
The victory improves Vancouver to 24-20-3-2 and their 53 points have them in third place in the B.C. Division, eight back of second-place Victoria and four clear of fourth-place Kelowna. The Giants do hold a pair of games in hand on both division rivals.
After scoring just three goals in a three-game winless streak (0-2-1-0), the Giants have exploded offensively in the current five-game win streak with 28 goals in that span (including a team-record dozen goals in their previous game). And even better for the team has been the fact they continue receiving contributions from up and down the line-up with five different goal scorers finding the back of the net on Saturday.
Leading the way on Saturday was defenceman Seth Bafaro – known more for his steady play in the defensive zone – who had a goal and two assists for his second career three-point game (both of which have come this season against Prince George). Bafaro also has five points in his last two games after registering 14 points in the first 47 games this season.
“Just been playing the same way, throwing pucks to the net and getting lucky,” he said. “And a couple of guys are heating up as well which is helping me out too.”
Vancouver raced out to a 2-0 lead with Holden Katzalay and Tyler Preziuso each finding the back of the net. Mitchell Kohner would get one back for the Cougars to cut the lead in half after one period.
The second period saw Justin Sourdif and Vladislav Mikhalchuk trade goals leaving Vancouver with a 3-2 lead and 20 minutes to go.
Head coach Michael Dyck wasn’t overly thrilled with his team’s middle 20 minutes.
“It was all about puck management. We weren’t winning face-offs so … when you are not starting out with the puck, they are dictating the play,” he said.
That led to Vancouver being short-handed three times (surrendering one power-play goal) and getting outshot in that middle stanza. To their credit, Vancouver responded.
“Our third period was very good, I thought we played the way we needed to play to close out the win,” Dyck said. “We did a better job of face-offs and puck management in the third.”
Bafaro made it 4-2 as his shot from the point beat Cougars goalie Taylor Gauthier and Milos Roman then made it 5-2 with a power-play goal. The Giants have a man-advantage goal in each game of their current win streak.
Trent Miner got the call in goal, making consecutive starts for the first time since November 7 and 8.
Miner was in goal for Tuesday’s 12-4 victory but was not particularly sharp, finishing with 15 saves on 19 shots. Miner sports a 2.99 goals against average and .899 save percentage in 20 games this season. He had a 1.98 GAA and .924 save percentage in 32 games last season.
Miner made several quality stops among his 27 saves.
“We wanted to go back to him tonight because it is really important he gets his confidence back,” Dyck said. “I don’t think he felt very good about his performance on Tuesday and part of it was on him but part of it was on our team putting him in some bad spots. Tonight was a real good game for him.”
Giants wore special Hockey Night in Canada inspired jerseys for the game and are auctioning them off with proceeds benefiting the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
READ MORE: Giants suit up to spotlight organ donation
Final shots were 34-29 for Vancouver.
Each team had one power-play goal with Prince George finishing 1-for-6 and Vancouver 1-for-3.
The Cougars won the face-off battle 27-26.
Preziuso (one goal, one assist) and Byram both had two-point games. Byram is on a four-game point streak with two goals and seven assists over that span.
The Giants continue their five-game homestand with a matinee today, Sunday (Feb. 9), against the division-leading Kamloops Blazers.
Kamloops lead the B.C. Division at 32-15-3-1 but the Blazers are in the midst of four-straight losses, including back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Giants on January 31 and February 1.
Puck drop is at 4 p.m.