Internal accountability – until the Vancouver Giants players can demonstrate that, they will continue to struggle. That was the message post-game from head coach Michael Dyck following a troubling 3-2 overtime loss to the last-place Prince George Cougars.
The Cougars had played the night before in Kennewick, Wash. against the Tri-City Americans and then travelled by bus overnight to Langley. The Giants were idle the night before and should have been the fresher of the teams as they met on Sunday afternoon at Langley Events Centre.
Instead Prince George scored twice in the opening 20 minutes and while the Giants battled back with a pair of second-period goals of their own, the Cougars converted on a three-on-one break during overtime to secure the extra point with Ryan Schoettler rifling home the winner.
It was Vancouver’s fourth loss (1-2-1-0) in the past five games as the team sits at 7-8-1-0 as they near the quarter-mark of the 68-game Western Hockey League season.
The Cougars sit last in the Western Conference at 4-9-0-1.
While on paper it may have seemed like the Giants would cruise to the two points, head coach Michael Dyck was not surprised by his team’s effort or execution.
“Based on our inconsistencies up until this point, until these guys start battling a little harder for each other, it is not going to change,” he said. “There just has to be some internal accountability – there was lots of that last year – right now, we are not getting enough of that.
“We have to be accountable to each other and until that happens, we are not going to change that.”
Prince George was up 2-0 following 20 minutes as Reid Perepeluk and Josh Maser executed a perfect two-on-zero break on goaltender Trent Miner with Perepeluk opening the scoring. Ilijah Colina doubled the lead one-timing a shot from the slot on the power play a few minutes later.
To their credit, the Giants battled back as Tristen Nielsen (on the power play) and Jackson Shepard responded for the home side in the middle stanza.
Vancouver had ample opportunity to put the game away receiving the only four man-advantage opportunities of the third period. But as has been the case for much of the season, Vancouver’s power-play could not convert, finishing the game one-for-eight and the team sits 17th in the WHL with just a 15.9 success rate.
“The guys that are on it just have to buy into what we are talking about, that’s all. It is not like we have to reinvent the wheel, the power play is the power play. The five guys are not working together right now that is the problem,” Dyck said.
Prince George goaltender Tyler Brennan made 37 saves and was the game’s first star. Nielsen (one goal) and Miner (30 saves) were the second and third stars.
Each team scored once on the power play.
Vancouver outshot Prince George 39-33.
The Giants are back in action on Saturday, Nov. 2nd as they travel to face the Tri-City Americans.
Vancouver’s next home game is Sunday, Nov. 3rd against the Medicine Hat Tigers. Puck drop is 4 p.m.
Photos by Chris Relke