Giants facing a fight as Spokane Chiefs bounce back
Head coach Don Hay is looking for more determination and more scoring chances from his team
By Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun
March 30, 2012
Giants captain Brendan Gallagher is looking forward to taking care of business on home ice in Game 5 tonight.
Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, PNG , Vancouver Sun
From 14 goals at home to just four on the road, the Vancouver Giants now find themselves fully engaged in their playoff series against the Spokane Chiefs.
They really didn't expect any-thing different at the outset of the WHL best-of-seven first-round battle, now knotted up 2-2, but maybe they were lulled into a false sense of security with their easy home-ice romps.
The Giants prevailed 7-5 and 7-3 at Pacific Coliseum before the Chiefs snapped back with consecutive 3-2 wins in Spokane, the latter in overtime. Game 5 in the series goes tonight at the Coliseum. Faceoff time is 7:30 p.m.
"Going down there, we knew we weren't going to be able to score seven goals a game," Giants captain Brendan Gallagher said Thursday. "We knew it was going to tighten up a little more and that it would be tougher to create offence. We knew those were the types of games they were going to be and Spokane found ways to win the one-goal games.
"So now it's 2-2. We still have two games at home and we still like where we are but it's going to be a lot of work."
The Giants had a glorious chance to come home with a split when Gallagher tied Wednesday night's Game 4 with 31.6 seconds remaining in the third period. However, they weren't able to complete the comeback when Spokane's Mitch Holmberg scored at 6: 43 of the first overtime.
"We went there to try to get one and I guess, in that respect, we failed," Gallagher continued. "Spokane did what they had to do at home just like we did in the first two games. You have to take care of your home ice and now the pressure is back on us. We're looking for-ward to Game 5. It's been a competitive series, the battle is there, the chippiness is there, it's what you expect come play-off time."
Giants shutdown defenceman Wes Vannieuwenhuizen figures the series has evolved into exactly what they thought it would be.
"From here on in, I think the games are going to be tight-checking," said the blueliner. The Chiefs made one strategic change at home by starting net-minder Eric Williams in place of Mac Engel, who surrendered 11 goals in less than five periods the first two games. Williams, by contrast, stopped 47 of 51 shots in his two winning starts. Engel's GAA in the series is 6.93 with a save percentage of .804 while Williams comes in at 2.40 and .905.
Giants head coach Don Hay had no problem Thursday figuring where his team has to be better.
"Well, we definitely have to create more scoring chances," Hay said. "We want to be more competitive. We want to spend more time in the offensive zone. Scoring chances were really hard to come by in Spokane.
"They did a good really good job not giving us a lot of opportunities off the rush, or from offensive zone play. They were the more determined team in Games 3 and 4 so our determination level has to go way up."
Game 6, now necessary, will be back in Spokane Sunday night.
G-NOTES: The Giants have lost rookie Anthony Ast again with recurring ankle issues. He re-injured the ankle in Game 3, his first appearance in the lineup since March 3. ... Giants starter Adam Morrison will carry a 3.42 GAA and .882 save percentage into Game 5. ... Brendan Gallagher and Jordan Martinook each have nine points in the series to lead the Giants' attack. ... Mike Aviani leads Spokane with six points.
Tonight vs Spokane Chiefs (Series tied 2-2)
7: 30 p.m. at Pacific Coliseum AM 650
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