Vancouver Giants have talked their recent string of success, winning tight, one-goal hockey games, as a precursor to what it will take to win in the Western Hockey League playoffs this spring.
The usual recipe for post-season success boils down to a combination of goaltending, special teams and a gritty, determined effort.
Unfortunately for the Giants, they only received one of those three on Sunday afternoon, a 1-0 setback to the visiting Prince George Cougars at Langley Events Centre.
“We weren’t sharp from the top to the bottom. The only guy who was sharp was (goaltender) David Tendeck,” said Giants head coach Michael Dyck. “We didn’t deserve to win this game.”
The teams were playing one another on consecutive nights with Vancouver prevailing 2-1 the night before, also at LEC.
But the Prince George visitors salvaged a split thanks to a first-period power-play goal from Ethan Browne. The goal was set up by great patience from Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who drew Tendeck and the defence to his side and then fed a beautiful cross-crease pass for Browne to hammer home.
The Giants fired 26 shots on Cougars netminder Isaiah DiLaura, but not enough were high-quality scoring chances. The closest the team came to scoring was late in the third period when Bowen Byram’s shot from the slot hit the cross bar and fell along the goal-line but stayed out.
“We didn’t generate enough going to the hard areas (and) we passed up a lot of shots when we could have taken them, looking for the pretty play,” Dyck said. “If you play on the perimeter, you are not going to score. Get to the net and pucks will go your way.”
The coach also felt his team wasn’t willing to do what was necessary against a big, physical team like the Cougars.
“They are a big heavy team and you have to be prepared to do it. I guess there are times where maybe you have a handful of guys that aren’t willing to do it, we had the entire team not willing to do it,” he said.
Another problem was special teams as Prince George was 1-for-5 with the man advantage while Vancouver was 0-for-4.
“Our power play is way better than that. When we had some problems earlier in the season, we simplified some things,” Dyck said. “Five guys have to work for it and five guys have to be on the same page and that’s not happening right now.”
The team is back in action on Friday (Nov. 16) as they host the Regina Pats at Langley Events Centre with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.