VICTORIA 1 (OT)
Vancouver leads series 2-0
The Vancouver Giants put the Victoria Royals to the sword at the Langley Events Centre in their Western Hockey League second-round playoff series.
Vancouver leads the series 2-0 following Tristan Nielsen’s goal at 3:29 of overtime in a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
The only reason the Royals were even able to take the Giants to overtime was the splendid goaltending of Victoria veteran Griffen Outhouse, as Vancouver outshot the Royals 36-10 in regulation time. That was after Victoria was able to muster only 15 shots on goal in the 3-0 loss in Game 1 on Friday night.
A game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for cross checking to Royals defenceman Jake Kustra at 2:54 of the second period proved pivotal Saturday and allowed the Giants to open scoring with a wraparound goal on the power play by Lukas Svejkovsky.
It took the Royals more than 5 1/2 periods to score their first goal of the series. Veteran defenceman Ralph Jarratt tied the game on the power play at 10:12 of the third period on a ricochet shot that just squeezed in.
The Royals’ injury situation, however, may have got worse when Jarratt left the game late after falling into the boards and did not return.
The B.C. Division and Western Conference champion Giants finished 29 points ahead of the B.C Division second-place Royals.
After Trent Miner, projected for the 2019 NHL draft, recorded the Game 1 shutout Friday, the Game 2 start in the Giants’ crease went to Arizona Coyotes draft-pick David Tendeck.
The third and fourth games in the best-of-seven second-round series are Tuesday and Thursday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Additional games, if required, would be April 13 in Langley, April 15 in Victoria and April 17 in Langley.
The Royals dispatched the B.C. Division third-seed Kamloops Blazers 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs. The Giants defeated the wildcard Seattle Thunderbirds 4-2 in the first round.
The Royals defeated the Giants in seven games in the first round last year. But things are different this time around. Last year was Vancouver’s first playoff appearance in four seasons. Now fully into their rebuild, the Giants are conference champions.
The Royals, who have made the playoffs in each of their eight seasons on the Island, are into the second round for the fifth time, but have advanced no further. Either Victoria or Vancouver is going to break a drought by advancing to the Western Conference final — against either Everett or Spokane — once the second-round spray settles.
Victoria was again without its top two forwards. Team-leading scorer Kaid Oliver missed the first-round Kamloops series with an upper-body injury. Assistant captain Kody McDonald sat out the third game of a six-game suspension incurred in the first round against Kamloops.