There are six games left for the Vancouver Giants in this COVID-modified season, and they're currently sitting 9-7. (Paige Bednorz/Special to Black Press Media)

Just minutes left, Kelowna snatches victory from Giants

The Langley-based WHL team, which fell 4-3, will face off against Victoria on Saturday night

A late third-period comeback lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants Thursday night in Kelowna.

Another loss shuffled the G-Men further away from the provincial top spot they held just last week, but associate coach Keith McCambridge remains optimistic with six games left in the season.

There were a few problems on the ice for the Giants in Thursday’s game, McCambridge explained. The most significant, he thought, was allowing the Rockets too many opportunities to be near their net and consequently to put points on the board.

“I’ve said it before, you can’t let good teams hang around,” he said immediately after the game.

“We are a good team, but tonight, in the third period, we didn’t show that,” McCambridge said, noting how the Rockets came back from a 3-3 tie – with less than eight seconds on the clock – to score the winning goal.

This was the fourth straight loss for the Giants (twice to Kelowna and twice to Kamloops), which now sits with nine wins and seven losses in the season. They are now 1-2 for the season against Kelowna.

RELATED – VIDEO: Kelowna ends Vancouver Giants winning streak

Kelowna’s Jake Lee and Mark Liwiski scored three minutes and 58 seconds apart late in the third period to help lead the Rockets to the comeback victory.

Zack Ostapchuk had two goals in response for the Giants, while Bryce Bader added a second-period goal.

“That was a big goal for us,” said McCambridge of Bader’s efforts. He commended the young new player who he described as a strong shooter.

“Bader’s a shooter. When he gets a chance in close like that, usually if it’s not in the back of the net, it’s a really tough safe for the goaltender. So that was a big goal for us.”

Justin Sourdif chimed in with two assists for Vancouver. Earning two points in that game, Sourdif is now back on top of the B.C. division scoring race with 25 points.

WATCH RECENT SOURDIF GOAL:

Trent Miner stopped 22 of the 26 Kelowna shots fired his way, while Kelowna starter Roman Basran went 22-for-25.

Their next game will be played Saturday night against Victoria. Again, they’re playing at the Kelowna’s Prospera Place, and McCambridge said his team will digest what they did Thursday and review what they know about the Royals ahead of the next matchup.

The associate coach called Victoria a “desperate team,” and said the Giants will be ready to do battle tomorrow.

RECENT PLAY – VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop hard-fought decision to the Kamloops Blazers

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BY THE NUMBERS

Box Score

1st period:

VAN – 9:03 into the game, 2021 NHL Draft prospect Zack Ostapchuk buried his first goal of the game off the rush. Ostapchuk raced down the left wing, took a feed from Justin Sourdif and snapped it past Roman Basran.

VAN – 37 seconds later, Ostapchuk struck again. This time he tucked home his own rebound in close. Justin Sourdif and Colton Langkow both factored into the scoring on Ostapchuk’s sixth goal of the season.

KEL – Back came the Rockets at 13:21 on a power play. With just five seconds remaining in a Giants minor penalty, Dillon Hamaliuk raced down the right wing off the rush and snuck a low shot through Trent Miner’s legs. Kaedan Korczak and Nolan Flamand each earned assists.

Shots: 9-6 Kelowna

2nd period:

KEL – 4:19 into the second period, the Rockets tied the game when rookie Turner McMillen scored on a shorthanded breakaway. McMillen’s first career WHL goal was set up by Tyson Feist, and was just the second shorthanded goal surrendered by the Giants this season.

VAN – Back came the Giants at 7:40, right as a power play had expired. Bryce Bader took a pass, skated into the high slot and wired a low shot underneath the stick of Roman Basran. For Bader it was his fourth of the season and was set up by Justin Lies and Marko Stacha.

Shots: 11-6 Vancouver

3rd period:

KEL – Jake Lee tied the game at 14:29 of the third period on a power play. Lee took a pass, split through the Giants defence and wired his second of the season past the blocker of Trent Miner. Dillon Hamaliuk added the only assist which came off a face-off victory.

KEL – Kelowna completed their comeback at 18:27 when Mark Liwiski redirected an Alex Swetlikoff pass home from in close. Miner had his goal stick knocked out of his hand moments before the Rockets scored the eventual game-winning goal.

Shots: 11-8 Kelowna

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Final score: Kelowna 4 – Vancouver 3

Final shots: 26-25 Kelowna

Trent Miner: 22/26 saves for Vancouver (6-6)

Roman Basran: 22/25 saves for Kelowna (3-1)

Vancouver power play: 0/4

Kelowna power play: 2/3

3 Stars: 1) Jake Lee (KEL – 1G, 1A); 2) Zack Ostapchuk (VAN – 2G); and 3) Turner McMillen (KEL – SHG)

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While the local team would typically play on home ice at the Langley Events Centre, this modified season has seen them play most of their games at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, and a few games in Kelowna – to meet safety protocols and restrictions. They are currently 16 games into the season, and WHL has confirmed there will be no playoffs or championships this year due to COVID.

The Giants are only playing against the four other B.C. teams (Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Victoria Royals, and Prince George Cougars) this season. In what’s called regular season play, the teams faceoff a total of six times against each other between the end of March and the middle of May.

SCHEDULE

They still have one more game against Kelowna, two games to play against both Victoria and Prince George, and one more against their arch rivals from Kamloops.

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There are six games left for the Vancouver Giants in this COVID-modified season, and they're currently sitting 9-7. (Paige Bednorz/Special to Black Press Media)

There are six games left for the Vancouver Giants in this COVID-modified season, and they're currently sitting 9-7. (Paige Bednorz/Special to Black Press Media)

There are six games left for the Vancouver Giants in this COVID-modified season, and they're currently sitting 9-7. (Paige Bednorz/Special to Black Press Media)

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