The Western Hockey League Strait Series began Friday night true to season form with the Vancouver Giants recording a 3-0 victory over the Victoria Royals before 4,523 fans at the Langley Events Centre.
The B.C. Division and Western Conference champion Giants finished 29 points ahead of the B.C. Division second-place Royals and took a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven second round WHL playoff series.
“It was an intense, physical game and both teams played their heart out,” said Royals head coach Dan Price.
“We had our chances, and if we had converted early, it would have been a different game.”
Trent Miner, projected for the 2019 NHL draft, got the start in the Giants crease ahead of Arizona Coyotes draft pick David Tendeck and recorded the 15-save shutout. Veteran Griffen Outhouse made 24 saves in goal for Victoria to be named game third star behind Miner and Vancouver forward Jared Dmytriw.
A first-period power-play goal by Davis Koch, who entered the series as one of the hottest players in the WHL after being named the WHL player of the month for March for recording 24 points in a mix of eight regular-season and six playoff games, held up entering the third period.
Former Royals player and current Giants captain Dymtriw made it 2-0 at 5:50 of the third period. Dawson Holt put it away at 18:12 of the third period on an assist from 20-year-old forward Dmytriw, who would like nothing better than to beat the Royals team that selected him in the bantam draft only to trade him away.
The first two Giants goals were assisted by Giants blue-liner Bowen Byram, a likely 2019 first-round NHL lottery pick and the top-rated blue-liner for the big-league draft.
The second game in the best-of-seven second-round series is Saturday night at the LEC before the series swings across the strait with the third and fourth games Tuesday and Thursday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.