Vancouver Giants’ Bowen Byram takes down Kamloops Blazers’ Nick Chyzowski during the Giants 5-4 win on Saturday at the LEC. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Vancouver Giants’ Bowen Byram takes down Kamloops Blazers’ Nick Chyzowski during the Giants 5-4 win on Saturday at the LEC. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Playoffs! Giants clinch post-season berth for first time in four years

Vancouver edges Kamloops to book playoff spot

When the season began with back-to-back lopsided losses, fans of the Vancouver Giants could be forgiven if they thought ‘here we go again.’

The Giants came out of the gate and were hammered 7-1 and 6-1 by the Victoria Royals on consecutive nights. This was coming on the heels of a season which saw them post just 46 points, their third-lowest total since they entered the Western Hockey League in 2001.

And even through the first 26 games of this season, the team was not even average, posting a 10-12-2-2 record.

This was on Nov. 25 and in the following 38 games, the Giants have been one of the top teams in the WHL, going 23-10-4-1.

And on Saturday night, Vancouver punched their ticket for the post-season thanks to a wild 5-4 win over the visiting Kamloops Blazers at the Langley Events Centre. It will be Vancouver’s first playoff appearance since the 2013/14 campaign.

The teams had also played the night before in Kamloops with the Blazers winning 5-1.

The team is 33-22-6-3 and with 75 points, sit third in the B.C. Division. They are, however, just three points back of Victoria for second place and the Giants hold two games in hand.

“Our goal isn’t finished, but one of our first goals was to get into the playoffs,” said coach Jason McKee. “It’s a good moment, a good feeling to be a part of that.

“We had a goal as an organization right from August and that was to get in (to the playoffs) and give ourselves a chance.”

Clinching on home ice — in front of 4,041 fans (the fifth time they have surpassed the 4,000-seat mark at the LEC in 34 games) — was an added bonus as the Giants play six of their final eight games on the road.

“They were the sixth man on the ice,” McKee said of the fans. “There was a great energy in the building (and) I think our guys really fed off it.”

The Giants led 3-0 after one period on goals from Alex Kannok Leipert, Brayden Watts and Hunor Torzsok (who scored his first career WHL goal).

And after Darian Skeoch’s dump-in from centre ice took a couple of skips along the ice and eluded Max Palaga — who had replaced Dylan Ferguson for the second period — it looked like it was game, set and match.

But the Blazers’ Joe Gatenby, Jermaine Loewen and Luc Smith scored in quick succession, three goals in 3:52 and it was game on.

A Giants timeout did result in Tyler Benson’s goal 49 seconds later and that stood as the winner.

The Blazers’ Nolan Kneen made things interesting with a goal seven minutes into the third period, but that would be it.

“We just made some (bad) decisions and they usually come back and hurt and you they did,” McKee said. Our group is continuing to learn … and we learned the hard way tonight.”

“We had complete control of the game and we just did some things that we didn’t need to and it just completely changed the complexion,” he added

“But we stuck with it. You saw a lot of sacrifice especially int he last two minutes there.”

Vancouver, which was already down a player and only dressed 11 forwards, lost Aidan Barfoot to injury as well in Saturday’s game.

McKee said that of the now six injured Giants, defenceman Dylan Plouffe is the only one who may play this weekend as Vancouver wraps up three games in less than 48 hours.

The Giants host the Western Conference’s top team, the Everett Silvertips on Sunday (March 4) at 2 p.m. before the team hits the road for six of their final seven games.



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Vancouver GiantsWHL

 

Kamloops Blazers’ Devan Harrison cuts off Vancouver Giants’ Dawson Holt. Gary Ahuja Black Press

Kamloops Blazers’ Devan Harrison cuts off Vancouver Giants’ Dawson Holt. Gary Ahuja Black Press

Kamloops Blazers’ Ryley Appelt gets the worst of this hit against Vancouver Giants’ Darian Skeoch. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Kamloops Blazers’ Ryley Appelt gets the worst of this hit against Vancouver Giants’ Darian Skeoch. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Just Posted

Councillor Doug Elford. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Elford to join Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society as a director

Fellow Safe Surrey Coalition Councillors Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra and Allison Patton will be re-appointed to the board

A cyclist stops traffic to allow a gaggle of geese cross the road. (Tino Fluckiger photo)
White Rock man asks motorists to be mindful of wildlife after close call

Impatient motorists drives into oncoming traffic

Big Splash water park is located in Tsawwassen. (submitted photo)
Big Splash reopens Canada Day with changes to keep the water park ‘safe for everyone’

Executive Hotels & Resorts has owned and operated the attraction since 2017

Elgin Park Secondary students rally for climate change outside of their South Surrey in 2019. (Nick Greenizan photo)
City of Surrey set to host online climate-action panel

June 23 Zoom event to include speakers, question-and-answer period

(Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey council moves to reduce parking along rapid transit corridors

This also targets rental housing developments in Rapid Transit Areas

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read