Patrick Holland lifts Ams in shootout victoryPosted: Updated:
LANGLEY, BC - George Santayana once penned that ‘those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.' On Saturday night, the Vancouver Giants realized that the hard way.
For the third time this season, the Vancouver Giants (33-20-1-3, 70 pts) saw an early lead evaporate against the Tri-City Americans (38-13-0-2, 78 pts), who used three third period goals and the winner in the shootout to slip past their Conference rivals 5-4 in front of 4,488 fans at the Langley Events Centre. With the win, the Americans are now 16-1 vs. the B.C. Division and improved to 16-8-0-2 on the road this season. Meanwhile, for the first time in the franchise's nine-year history, the Giants were swept by the Americans during the regular season, falling to 0-4 in 2009-10.
Much like the club's last meeting two weeks ago in Kennewick, early Vancouver goals spelled an early exit for the Americans' starting goaltender. This time, however, it was Drew Owsley coming to the rescue of starter Alexander Pechurskiy. Through the first 11:53 of the contest, Pechurskiy allowed three goals on eight shots, giving way to Owsley midway through the first period.
Just 1:58 into the contest, Vancouver captain Lance Bouma buried a wrap-around attempt at the near post to start the scoring. Then, two and a half minutes later, a sloppy play by the Tri-City defense allowed Brett Breitkreuz to take advantage and put the Giants up by two. Then, just past the midway point of the period, newly returned James Wright had a Tomas Vincour shot ricochet of his skate, bounce off the left pad of Pechurskiy and cross the goal line, making it a 3-0 game.
After Wright's goal, Tri-City coach Jim Hiller made the switch in net to try and jumpstart his team. And, just like their last meeting with Vancouver, it worked. Less than two minutes following the switch, Neal Prokop put back a Justin Feser rebound to start the Americans' comeback bid.
Despite being outshot 16 to 9 in the second period, Owsley and the Americans stayed within striking distance of the Giants as the teams headed into the third period. Once there, Tri-City outshot Vancouver 16 to 8 over the next 20 minutes and connected three times.
Only 3:42 into the period, Prokop sent Feser in on a breakaway. Feser then lifted a backhander shelf on Mark Segal, to pull the Americans within one. Then, a minute and a half later and on the power play, Patrick Holland threw the puck on net from the left circle. His shot somehow went off the blocker arm of Segal and slipped past the netminder, tying the game at 3-apeice. Finally, with 5:29 left in regulation, Brock Sutherland let a slap shot go that beat Segal shelf on the glove, completing the Americans' comeback.
But, with 11.3 seconds remaining in regulation and Segal pulled for the extra attacker, Milan Kytnar knocked a James Henry pass out of mid air, past Owsley, to tie the game at four and send it into overtime in dramatic fashion.
With the momentum in their court, Vancouver outchanced Tri-City in the overtime period, collecting three shots on goal while holding Tri-City without a shot on net. Then, with just over a minute remaining in the overtime, Kytnar just missed on a potential game-winner that scooted through the crease. But, in the end, Saturday's game would be decided in the shootout.
Electing to go first, Vancouver sent out Henry, who was stopped by Owsley trying to squeeze the puck between his pads. Then, Segal collected Feser's attempt, as he tried to lift a backhander over his glove. In round 2, Owsley kicked out Craig Cunningham's attempt then watched as Holland tucked his attempt inside the right post to set-up a must-score situation for Vancouver's Kevin Connauton in round 3. Connauton, however, clanked his shot off the right post, as the Tri-City bench spilled onto the ice in celebration.
Owsley, who picked up his league-leading 30th win of the season, stopped 30 of 31 shots faced in relief. Meanwhile, Segal finished the night with 31 saves on 35 shots in the loss. The Americans went 1-for-2 on the power play, while holding the Giants scoreless on their two opportunities.