Vancouver Giants Brayden Watts follows the puck against the Kelowna Rockets in WHL action Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants Brayden Watts follows the puck against the Kelowna Rockets in WHL action Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

VIDEO: ‘Big time disappointment’ as Vancouver Giants fall to undermanned Kelowna Rockets

Head coach Jason McKee very unhappy with effort in Giants’ regular season home finale

From their head coach on down, the Vancouver Giants’ collective mood was sour Friday night as they processed a 5-2 loss to a visiting Kelowna Rockets team that was missing a handful of marquee players.

The Rockets were without their top two scorers in Vancouver Canucks draft pick Kole Lind (93 points) and Calgary Flames draft pick Dillon Dube (80 points) as well as both Foote brothers on defence, Tampa Bay Lightning pick Cal (68 points from the blueline) and his younger sibling Nolan (40 points).

“They had a deflated roster and us losing 5-2 to them… we didn’t play well at all,” said Giants defenceman Bowen Byram.

A healthy Giants team with a full roster and with home ice advantage to open the playoffs on the line, couldn’t find a way to beat the Rockets, who, granted, are one of the best teams in the WHL with a B.C. Division-leading 42-22-5-2 record.

“Big time disappointment — big time,” Giants head coach Jason McKee grumbled. “Our game was not very good tonight. We knew what was on the line and we didn’t respond, didn’t execute. It was not a good night for the Vancouver Giants.”

The effort surprised McKee.

“We’ve been good all year and unfortunately tonight, there wasn’t a lot to like in our game. It goes to prove that you’ve got to play the game the right way. You’ve got to respect the game and if you don’t, you’re not going to win.”

“It was a tough game in a way of, we made plays where we shouldn’t have, and they capitalized on their opportunities and their chances, and I think we gave them the game,” said Giants leading scorer Ty Ronning, who scored his 61st of the campaign in a losing cause. “We didn’t execute our plays and they ended up in the back of our net. We slacked and we need to regroup and be ready for playoffs.”

In the Giants’ final regular season game on home ice, the Rockets scored three times in the opening frame and cruised to victory in front of a near full house of 4,624 fans.

The loss erased any hopes the Giants had of having home ice advantage when they open the playoffs next weekend against the Victoria Royals, who also lost to Everett on Friday night.

The Giants’ record dropped to 36-26-6-3 and they will open the best-of-seven series next Friday in Victoria against the 39-26-4-2 Royals.

Strictly from the numbers on the scoreboard after 20 minutes, the opening period was a bit of a tire fire for the Giants, even though they had outshot the Rockets 17-10.

A pair of goals by Kelowna’s Carsen Twarynski and a single off the stick of Gordie Ballhorn, on a rebound after Giants goalie Trent Miner made a fine save, put the Giants in a three-donut hole.

“We’ve got to be able to rebound from that and claw our way back into the game,” Byram said.

The Giants rallied and owned the positional play in the second period, despite having to kill off a five-on-three power play.

Ronning gave the hosts some life at the 8:40 mark of the middle frame when he swung around the net and wristed a low, hard shot that fooled Salmond on the far side.

But any life the G-Men had was life was drained just past the midway point of the third period, when Kelowna’s Kyle Topping one-timed a beautiful cross-crease feed from Liam Kindree.

The Giants potted the final goal after some excellent work behind the net from Jared Dmytriw, who sped behind the net, dug the puck out of a pile, and centered it right on the stick of Brayden Watts, who snapped a shot over the shoulder of Rockets netminder Brodan Salmond.

With Miner pulled for the extra attacker, Topping blocked a point shot and proceeded to swoop the puck into an empty Giants goal with 1:25 to play to empty out the LEC.

The Giants and Rockets play again tomorrow night (March 17) to finish the regular season. Both teams will be looking for a strong effort to gain momentum heading into the playoffs.

Playoffs!

Giants fans had a reason to be in a festive mood, regardless of how the game shook out.

The G-Men are playoff-bound for the first time in four years, and they had their first chance to see WHL hockey at the LEC after a nearly two-week absence.

After their last home game, a 6-1 loss to Everett on March 4, the Giants played their next five on the road, going 3-2 in that span.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Vancouver Giants winger Ty Ronning is knocked to the ice by Kelowna Rockets defenceman Libor Zabransky during Friday’s WHL game at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants winger Ty Ronning is knocked to the ice by Kelowna Rockets defenceman Libor Zabransky during Friday’s WHL game at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Making a quick stop, Vancouver Giants centre James Malm looks for an open teammate while being tracked by Kelowna Rockets left winger Colum McGauley as the G-Men hosted the Rockets at the Langley Events Centre Friday. Troy Landreville Black Press

Making a quick stop, Vancouver Giants centre James Malm looks for an open teammate while being tracked by Kelowna Rockets left winger Colum McGauley as the G-Men hosted the Rockets at the Langley Events Centre Friday. Troy Landreville Black Press

Pictured being watched closely by Kelowna Rockets centre Marek Skvrne, Vancouver Giants winger Ty Ronning scored in his team’s match-up against the Rockets Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Pictured being watched closely by Kelowna Rockets centre Marek Skvrne, Vancouver Giants winger Ty Ronning scored in his team’s match-up against the Rockets Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants left winger Brayden Watts is sent flying after taking an open ice hit from Kelowna Rockets defenceman Gordie Ballhorn during Friday’s WHL game at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants left winger Brayden Watts is sent flying after taking an open ice hit from Kelowna Rockets defenceman Gordie Ballhorn during Friday’s WHL game at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants defenceman Matt Barberis follows the puck while being pushed towards the boards by Kelowna Rockets left winger Wil Kushniryk. The Giants took on the WHL powerhouse Rockets in their final regular season home game, before playoffs. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants defenceman Matt Barberis follows the puck while being pushed towards the boards by Kelowna Rockets left winger Wil Kushniryk. The Giants took on the WHL powerhouse Rockets in their final regular season home game, before playoffs. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants centre James Malm moves the puck along the board as Kelowna Rockets left winger Carson Twarynski moves in to check him Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Vancouver Giants centre James Malm moves the puck along the board as Kelowna Rockets left winger Carson Twarynski moves in to check him Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Kelowna Rockets goaltender Brodan Salmond untangles himself from a fallen teammate as Vancouver Giants left winger Brayden Watts swoops past in WHL play Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Kelowna Rockets goaltender Brodan Salmond untangles himself from a fallen teammate as Vancouver Giants left winger Brayden Watts swoops past in WHL play Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Troy Landreville Black Press

Just Posted

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired Mission teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Alan Sweet taught in school district for 10 years, investigators seeking further witnesses

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement between Fraser Valley FN communities, RCMP to expand Indigenous role in policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Robbie Weir’s “Bee Happy In The Garden” is on display during Hope Arts Gallery’s Retrospective 12 show. (Photo/Hope Arts Gallery)
Hope Arts Gallery “Retrospective 12” show is open

Runs until March 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Hope Mountain Centre volunteers carry wood along the Dragon’s Back trail. The trail is all but ready for hiking as of the Hope Council’s Feb. 22 meeting, promising a challenge worth the “million dollar view of Hope,” said Kelly Pearce. (Photo/Hope Mountain Centre)
2020 a busy year for trails in ‘Hope’s backyard’: Mountain Centre

Program director Kelly Pearce recapped last year’s activities to council

District Hall, Hope (Photo/Adam Louis)
Council Preview for March 8

Meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Monday via Facebook

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read