Three goals in a span of 125 seconds were more than enough offence for the Vancouver Giants as goaltender Jesper Vikman was nearly unbeatable at the other end of the ice, stopping 39 of 40 shots in a 3-1 victory.
The Giants were hosting the Portland Winterhawks – the first time they played a non-B.C. Division opponent since February 2020 – on home ice Saturday night at Langley Events Centre in Western Hockey League action. It was Vancouver’s fourth straight on home ice and gives them points in five straight (4-0-1-0) games as they improved to 6-2-1-0 on the season. Portland saw its record fall to 5-7-0-1.
Giants head coach Michael Dyck said Vikman – the game’s first star – was the primary reason for his team’s victory as Portland outshot Vancouver 40-29, including 17-9 in the opening frame.
Some thoughts from Michael Dyck after a 3-1 home win over the Winterhawks. pic.twitter.com/x75TcX0LQl— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) November 7, 2021
“I don’t think we are very happy with our effort as a whole,” Dyck said. “We had some guys step up but for the most part, we got outplayed and Jesper Vikam came up big for us. He won us that hockey game. “
Vikman’s 39 saves on the night were a new season high. His record now sits at 5-1-1-0 with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Connor Horning (on the power play), Ty Thorpe and Nicco Camazzola scored in a 2:05 span midway through the first period on consecutive shots, ending Portland goaltender Dante Giannuzzi’s night. That was all the offence in the game until James Stefan scored a power-play goal with less than three minutes, ruining Vikman’s bid for a third shutout on the season. He is one of four goaltenders in the WHL with two goose eggs so far.
Thorpe’s six-game point streak has now yielded four goals and four assists for eight points. It’s the longest point-streak of his WHL career.
Two of Vancouver’s goals came from their blue-liners and each team scored once on the power play.
“We caught some fire,” Dyck said about the 2:05 stretch which produced all their offence. “Just throwing pucks on net. That was our game plan, to start funneling some pucks on net and getting some traffic.”
“There were spurts where we did play well, but I think we are better than (what we showed tonight).”
RECAP: Four straight wins for the Vancouver Giants! This one came off the strength of 39 saves from Jesper Vikman, and three timely goals in a 2:05 span. The G-Men prevail 3-1 over Portland.— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) November 7, 2021
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Both teams did play the night before with Portland winning in a shootout in Kelowna while Vancouver was a 3-1 winner on home ice over Prince George.
READ MORE: VIDEO: Vancouver Giants down Cougars
Giants will look to make it points in six straight games when they hit the road on Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Prince George against the Cougars. It is the first of four games in five nights as they play again in Prince George the following night before a home-and-home series against the B.C. Division-leading Kamloops Blazers. The teams play in Kamloops on Friday before hitting the ice at Langley Events Centre on Saturday at 7 p.m.
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