Giants win one of three at home

WHL team gains a little ground in Western Conference race

Vancouver Giants goalie Ryan Kubic concentrates on the puck while being screened by Edmonton Oil Kings forward Lane Bauer during

Taking three of a possible six points on home ice last week, the Vancouver Giants moved a point closer to the playoffs.

But with just 17 games remaining, time is running out on the Western Hockey League team to make up the six points needed to move into the final playoff position in the Western Conference.

Vancouver fell 6-2 to the Spokane Chiefs Wednesday night, dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Calgary Hitmen Friday, then edged the Edmonton Oil Kings on Family Day (Monday).

Now at 21-28-6 (win-loss-overtime loss), the Giants remain in the basement of the Western Conference with 48 points, three back of the Tri-City Americans and six back of the Winterhawks. Portland went 1-2-0 last week to remain in the eighth and final playoff position, while the Americans made the biggest move in the standings by going 2-0-1 to get to within three points of a playoff spot.

Vancouver’s lone win of the week came Monday afternoon before a large crowd of 5,225 at the Pacific Coliseum. Although outshot 28-23, the Giants got a huge game in goal from Ryan Kubic, who earned his fourth shutout of the season.

The Giants netted the only goal of the game 12 minutes into the third period when Ben Thomas beat Oil King netminder Patrick Dea.

The Giants picked up a point Friday night against Calgary, taking the Central Division team to overtime before losing 3-2.

Ty Ronning netted his 28th of the season four minutes into the game, but the Hitmen were tied with the home team 1-1 after one period. Calgary scored in the first minute of the third period for a 2-1 lead.

Chase Lang pulled Vancouver even with his 22nd goal of the season with less than four minutes to play, but Calgary needed just three minutes of extra time to score the winner.

Spokane dominated the start and finish of Wednesday’s game, scoring three times in the first six minutes of play and another three in the third period.

Lang potted both Vancouver goals, scoring 75 seconds apart midway through the second period to cut Spokane’s lead to 3-2 after two periods of play.

Vancouver outshot the Chiefs 27-23. Spokane went one-for-four with the powerplay, killing off all four shorthanded situations.

The Giants will face-off twice against the Kamloops Blazers next weekend, a team which has 56 points and occupies the seventh-position overall in the Western Conference.

Vancouver has won two of three head-to-head meetings this season against the Blazers.