The Vancouver Giants snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday night, downing the Chilliwack Bruins 2-1 in the latest battle between the B.C. division arch rivals.
Two teams who don’t like each other in the least opened this game in appropriate fashion, with Curt Gogol (Chilliwack) and Brett Lyon (Vancouver) dropping the mitts just eight seconds in. Gogol threw lefts and Lyon tossed rights, setting the stage for 60 minutes of entertaining and antagonizing hockey.
Power plays were an issue for Vancouver the last time these two teams met, with Chilliwack going 2-11 in a 5-1 win Nov. 11.
So Giants head coach Don Hay was undoubtedly wincing when Brendan Gallagher took an undisciplined roughing penalty just 77 seconds into the game. Chilliwack’s top ranked power play (26.3 per cent) took just 44 seconds to cash in on a goal by Robin Soudek.
Brandon Manning and Roman Horak drew the assists as Soudek one-timed a shot from the left faceoff circle, beating Giants netminder Mark Segal for his ninth of the year.
Chilliwack’s 10th ranked penalty killing unit got their job done in in period one, snuffing out two Vancouver power plays without surrendering any significant scoring chances. But the Giants poked a hole in the PK early in period two, tying the game with a Neil Manning power play blast. With Chilliwack’s Kevin Sundher parked in the penalty box for high sticking, the veteran blueliner notched his eighth of the year, going blocker side on Chilliwack netminder Lucas Gore.
Manning picked up his second point of the night on Gallagher’s go-ahead game-winning goal, scored at the 10:27 mark.
Gore appeared to be screened on this one as the Montreal Canadiens draft pick ripped a top shelf shot from 45 feet out, netting his league-leading 24th of the season (tied with Kamloops Blazer Brendan Ranford).
Despite out-shooting the Giants 19-12 in the middle frame, the good guys faced a deficit heading to the third.
Vancouver has been very good this season when leading after 40 minutes, sporting a record of 10-0-0-2.
Hay had his troops playing their systems to perfection and the Giants were the more dangerous looking team as the seconds ticked away. That the Bruins were still in it at the end can be fully credited to Gore. The 20-year-old made notable stops on Gallagher and Craig Cunningham, and committed grand-theft larceny on Jordan Martinook.
Gore was pulled with just over a minute remaining. Chilliwack head coach Marc Habscheid sent his first line of Ryan Howse, Horak and Soudek over the boards, with Sundher as the extra attacker. But a sharp-angle shot by Horak was the best they could do as they ran out of time.
Three stars were Segal (first), Gallagher (second) and Gore (third).
The Bruins are back home for a special Tuesday morning home game, hosting the Swift Current Broncos at 10:30 a.m.