It was a team effort that pushed the Vancouver Giants into a tie for top spot in the B.C. division this weekend, but a huge part of the credit is owing to goal tender Trent Miner – including his work in the net Sunday.
Stopping every puck sent his way by the Kamloops Blazers team, Miner not only helped cinch the 4-0 victory over their league rivals, but he earned a star of the game honour and noted accolades from his captain and coach.
“Trent was amazing,” said team captain Alex Kannok Leipert. “Trent was a brick wall back there, so it was good.”
Miner is 2-0 against Kamloops on the season and has now shut them out twice, but Sunday’s game also earned him top seat in the WHL in shutouts (4), goals-against average (1.20), and save percentage (.948).
The Giants were strong in attacking the Kamloops net, and made the first 10 minutes of play really count, said associate coach Keith McCambridge.
“It was a pretty physical game. You could tell there’s a rivalry here and both teams know they’re jockeying for that first place in the division right now,” he said. “I thought the players did a really good job with regards to not giving Kamloops any kind of momentum…”
While impressed and quick to applaud both the offensive and defensive efforts of the Giants at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops this weekend, McCambridge also acknowledged Miner’s contributions.
It was an excellent game by him,” McCambridge said. “He’s a big part of why we’re having success… Trent has been able to come up with those highlight reel saves.”
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 19, 2021
Kudos were also offered up to Tristen Nielsen, who scored three of the four goals for the G-Men and earned top player of the game.
The coach called him both smart and a strong player, noting Nielsen has 11 points already in this “quick” season (5 goals and an assist for 6 points in three straight games).
“He’s got speed and really good vision knowing where that buck is going to go… from the top of the circle down, he’s deadly. He’s getting his opposition’s best D every time he goes out on the ice, and he’s still being able to put the numbers up there that he is. Very impressive,” said McCambridge.
In addition to Nielsen’s and Miner’s noted efforts on the ice, Eric Florchuk added three assists and Zack Ostapchuk added a first-period goal in the shutout victory over Kamloops.
The two teams are now both reporting seven wins each this season. The Blazers are 7-2, while the Giants are 7-3.
And five of the seven victories for the Giants this season have come via the shutout.
They’re hoping for another triumph tonight (Monday) when the G-Men take to the ice against the Prince George Cougars. They lost their last two games against the Cougars, a team McCambridge said they could and should have beat.
With some serious preparation, he believes a victory Monday night is possible and said the Vancouver Giants have an eye on grabbing sole possession of first place.
Due to the pandemic and safety restrictions, the Giants are playing a modified 24-game season, only competing against B.C. teams (Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Victoria Royals, and Prince George Cougars) six times each between the end of March and the middle of May.
PREVIEW: Tonight from the #REMAXHub in Kamloops, the Vancouver Giants look to take the lead in the B.C. Division when they battle Prince George.
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 19, 2021
BY THE NUMBERS
VAN – 3:34 into the first period, Zack Ostapchuk skated onto a Justin Lies clearing pass, raced wide on a Kamloops defenceman down the right-wing and snuck a backhand shot through Dylan Grand for his third of the season.
VAN – Tristen Nielsen extended the Giants lead with his team-leading ninth goal of the season. It came from the slot, off a slick feed from Justin Sourdif. With that assist, Justin Sourdif extended his point-streak to six straight games.
VAN – Tristen Nielsen potted his second of the game off a shot from the right-wing circle at 9:20. Nielsen’s goal came on the Giants first power play of the game, and was set up by Eric Florchuk and Marko Stacha.
VAN – Tristen Nielsen completed his second hat-trick of the season at 18:07 from in close at the right side of the Kamloops goal. His 11th goal of the season also came via the power play and was set up by Justin Sourdif and Eric Florchuk.
Shots: 11-4 Vancouver
Final score: Vancouver 4 – Kamloops 0
Final shots: 32-27 Vancouver
Trent Miner: 27/27 saves for Vancouver (5-2)
Dylan Garand: 24/28 saves for Vancouver (6-2)
Vancouver Power Play: 2/5
Kamloops Power Play:; 0/2
3 Stars: 1) Tristen Nielsen (VAN – 3G); 2) Justin Sourdif (VAN – 1A); and 3) Trent Miner (VAN – 27 Saves. Shutout)
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