Michael Dyck didn’t mince words when summing up his struggling hockey club’s latest defeat.
With the score tied and less than two minutes to play in regulation, Tristen Nielsen was assessed a five-minute major for interference. Nielsen had also just exited the penalty box 23 seconds earlier and both his infractions occurred in the offensive zone.
“Real selfish play by Tristen Nielsen, terrible penalty,” said the Giants head coach. “(Our power play) gave us a chance to win, Trent Miner gave us a chance to win, our penalty kill was good but if you take a five-minute penalty with two minutes left in the hockey game – he takes two penalties in the last five minutes – those are almost impossible to kill off.”
“We should have won the hockey game. We beat ourselves.”
The Giants did manage to extend the game to overtime to guarantee themselves at least a single point, but Kaeden Korczak blasted home the winner at the 1:58 mark during the four-on-three overtime for a 3-2 Kelowna Rockets victory on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre.
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It was Vancouver’s third straight defeat (they are 2-5-2-1 in their past 10 games) and they have lost back-to-back games against opponents who played the night before and travelled to Langley while the Giants had the night off.
That extra point is huge as the Rockets extended their lead over Giants to six points in the race for third place in the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division. Vancouver (19-20-3-2, 43 points) does hold a pair of games in hand on Kelowna (23-23-1-2, 49 points).
The Giants trailed 1-0 after one period with Matthew Wedman opening the scoring at the 4:37 mark and Vancouver’s power play scored goals 2:21 apart in the middle stanza – the first from Milos Roman and the second courtesy of Tyler Preziuso.
It was a period largely controlled by the Giants as they at one point (thanks to three consecutive man-advantage opportunities) had a 12-1 shots on goal advantage. And while the Rockets did find their game in the latter stages of the period, Trent Miner kept the Rockets at bay as the Giants led 2-1 with a period to play. But Jonas Peterek pulled the Rockets even at two goals apiece with nine minutes remaining, setting the stage for Korczak’s overtime winner.
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The teams complete the home-and-home series today (Sunday, Jan. 26) back in Kelowna and they could be playing with a short-handed roster, losing Zack Ostapchuk to injury in the second period and with Nielsen facing supplementary discipline from the league.
“You have to dig in and fight for each other,” Dyck said about the potential of missing two regular forwards from their line-up in the rematch. “It will have to be real gritty team effort.”