Giants win fifth straight in a mismatch
On a night when the Vancouver Giants honoured former scoring leader Gilbert Brulé, the current edition of the team won its fifth straight game Friday, defeating the Kamloops Blazers 3-1. The Giants dominated the game from start to finish, outshooting the visitors 38-17 and scoring once in each period. Only a remarkable performance from Kamloops goaltender Jeff Bosch kept the score respectable.
Right winger Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring with his team-leading 33rd of the season on a two-on-one break, following a tidy toe drag past a sprawling defender with a wrist shot past Bosch. The Giants looked to extend the lead, but the Blazer backstop made several impressive stops in tight on Czech centre Andrej Stastny, who was dangerous all night long. The Blazers showed some grit in the 14th minute of the first, stealing the puck down low – tic, tac, tap-in, Dylan Willick sent the game to the dressing room tied at one on just the team’s third shot of the night.
Spencer Bennett continued his stellar play since coming to Vancouver as part of the deal that sent team captain Craig Cunningham to the Portland Winterhawks and sparked the turnaround in the Giants season. Bennett, a White Rock product, potted two goals against the Blazers and added an assist. His first of the night came on a rebound in tight – Gallagher got the puck into the crease, where the two Giants had several whacks at it. Bennett finally put it home past Bosch for the eventual game winner, and added a power play goal in the third period for some insurance.
Bennett now has 21 points in 13 games since joining the Giants – the same number of points he scored in 37 games with the Winterhawks.
Both teams continued trends with the final outcome. The Blazers sit last in the Western Conference, have just one win in their last ten games and are now winless in five. The Giants, on the other hand, have won ten of their last twelve, and as of this writing, sit atop the WHL’s BC Division with 57 points. Tonight, anyway, more than ten thousand Giants fans were treated to a mismatch in their favour.
Surprisingly, there was a relative lack of rough stuff. Coming into the game, Vancouver and Kamloops were the two most-penalized squads in the WHL – this night, however, saw the teams combine for just 18 minutes in penalties before Brandon Underwood added 12 more to that tally at the final buzzer.
Brulé was inducted into the Giants Ring of Honour during a brief pre-game ceremony, with his name and number 17 on a large plaque unveiled by family members in attendance. Drafted sixth overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft, Brulé helped the Giants win the 2006 WHL title and became the first-ever Giant to bring home the Ed Chynoweth trophy as the Memorial Cup leading scorer. Brulé now plays for the Edmonton Oilers.