RECAP: The Giants dropped a 1-0 decision in their 2020 opener Wednesday afternoon to Victoria. Up next, a trip to Kamloops for a battle with the Blazers Friday at 7.
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— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) January 2, 2020
A defensive lapse early in the third period was the difference in the game as the Vancouver Giants modest three-game win streak came to an end.
Phillip Schulz pounced on a loose puck to start the play and Tarun Fizer’s pass ricocheted off a Giants defender right back to Schulz and the Royals captain was in perfect position to open the scoring at 2:58 of the third period.
That would be the only goal from either team as the Royals hung on for the 1-0 victory in front of 4,458 fans at Langley Events Centre on Wednesday afternoonas the teams played a special New Year’s Day matinee.
Neither team generated much in the first 40 minutes but Victoria controlled the first 11 minutes of the final frame, firing 11 shots on Giants goaltender David Tendeck while Vancouver mustered just one shot on goal at the other end of the ice.
“We were sloppy. I didn’t think we were real sharp, especially in the third period when we needed to make a push,” said Giants head coach Michael Dyck. “At the end of the day I think we beat ourselves in the third.”
The final nine minutes saw Vancouver control the puck and they had the last eight shots on goal but could not managed to slip the equalizer past the Royals’ Shane Farkas who made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season.
“I think our defence played well, and our goaltending was good tonight (but) we needed more from our forwards,” Dyck said.
The game was in stark contrast to Vancouver’s previous contest, a 6-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets on December 28 when the Giants displayed an impressive transition game with five of the six goals occurring in transition and the other coming on the power play. It was Vancouver’s third win in as many tries this season against Kelowna.
The Royals however have presented themselves to be a formidable challenge with Victoria having won three of the four head-to-head games this season. Vancouver had won the previous matchup, 2-1 in Victoria on December 27. The Royals have proved effective in limiting time and space, getting sticks on pucks in the neutral zone and blocking shots in their own zone.
“That’s the way they play. In Victoria (on Dec. 27) we played a much better team game, we played as five in every zone,” Dyck said. “That’s what you have to do to beat this team.”
— Stephen Hawco (@stephenhawco7) January 1, 2020
The victory moves Victoria (20-12-2-0, 42 points) to second place in the Western Hockey League’s BC division while the Giants (17-16-1-1, 36 points) sit in fourth place.
Up next for the Giants is a pair of divisional road games this weekend on Friday against the first-place Kamloops Blazers (22-11-2-1, 47 points) and the next night in Kelowna versus the third-place Rockets (19-13-1-2, 41 points).
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