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VIDEO: Giants climb to top with 11 games remaining

Vancouver Giants sit atop the B.C. division standings after another victory in Kamloops on Monday evening.

The G-Men climbed into top spot with a 2-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars, that’s the eighth victory of the season for this team.

The triumph puts them two points ahead of their rivals, the Kamloops Blazers, in division play on the same day the Western Hockey League (WHL) announced there will be no playoffs or championship series due to COVID restrictions.

While the local team would typically play on home ice at the Langley Events Centre, this modified season has seen them play most of their games at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, and a few games in Kelowna – to meet safety protocols and restrictions.

The Giants are only playing against the four other B.C. teams (Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Victoria Royals, and Prince George Cougars) this season. In what’s called regular season play, the teams faceoff a total of six times against each other between the end of March and the middle of May.

WATCH GAME HIGHLIGHTS

On Monday, the G-Men moved to eight wins, and three losses with their 2-1 victory over the Cougars.

Adam Hall broke open a 1-1 tie at 11:30 of the final period to help clinch the victory. He is now tied for second in team goal scoring with five.

Eric Florchuk added a first period goal for Vancouver, while goaltender Trent Miner made 33 saves in what the associate coach, Keith McCambridge, called a first-star performance.

Miner improved his record to 6-2 on the season and improved his league-leading goals-against average to 1.18 and his league-leading save percentage to .952.

The Giants next game is Wednesday in Kelowna, where they’ll face off against Victoria.

RECENT VICTORIA GAME – VIDEO: Giants young goalie shutouts Victoria, 4-0

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https://twitter.com/WHLGiants/status/1384531422250115083?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

BY THE NUMBERS

Box score

1st period:

VAN – With only 2:16 left in the opening frame, Eric Florchuk wired home his third goal of the season off a Justin Lies rebound. Zack Ostapchuk earned the second assist on the play as he started the rush with a shot-block at his own blueline.

Shots: 11-8 Prince George

2nd period:

No Scoring

Shots: 10 – 8 Prince George

3rd period:

PG – 1:56 into the final period, under-age forward Riley Heidt tied the score at 1-1 when he snuck past the Giants defense and banked home his second goal of the season from beside the Vancouver goal. Hudson Thornton earned the lone assist.

VAN – Adam Hall restored the Giants lead and bagged the game-winning goal at 11:30 off a slick three-way passing play with Justin Sourdif and Tristen Nielsen. Hall skated into the slot, took a Tristen Nielsen feed and wired home his fifth of the season to help cement the Giants eighth victory of the season.

Shots: 13-13

RECENT PLAY – VIDEO: Giants record fifth shutout of the season

Final score: Vancouver 2 – Prince George 1

Final shots: 34-29 Prince George

Trent Miner: 33/34 saves for Vancouver (6-2)

Taylor Gauthier: 27/29 saves for Prince George (2-4)

Vancouver power play: 0/4

Prince George power play: 0/4

3 Stars: 1) Trent Miner (VAN – 33 Saves); 2) Adam Hall (VAN – GWG); and 3) Taylor Gauthier (PG – 27 Saves)

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PLAYOFFS CALLED OFF

In the meantime, on Monday the WHL announced there will be no playoffs.

The 2020-21 WHL season will conclude following the completion of the 24-game regular season schedule, due to current public health conditions and the ongoing challenges with COVID-19.

Because of restrictions on travel across both provincial and international borders, the WHL is not in a position to conduct the 2021 WHL playoffs, including the WHL championship series, said commissioner Ron Robison.

“When we returned to play in February, we set out with the intention of completing a 24-game regular season schedule, knowing adjustments would be needed along the way,” Robison said.

“We remained hopeful that public health conditions would improve, but unfortunately that is not the reality we see in front of us today.”

He added: “We commend our players, team staff, and officials for their commitment to following the protocols that have made this unprecedented season a success.”

WHL will still be recognizing individual award winners and all four WHL division champions at the conclusion of the 2020-21 WHL regular season, including the presentation of the RE/MAX Cup for the B.C. division champions and the Subway Cup for the east division champions.

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Langley Times Staff

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