Kelowna Rockets Connor Bruggen-Cate — who is from Langley — holds off Vancouver Giants defenceman Brennan Riddle during WHL action at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday. Riddle was playing his first home game since being traded to the Giants earlier this month. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Packed house gives Giants extra boost

Largest crowd at Langley Events Centre since opening night last season

The Vancouver Giants learned just how much a home-crowd advantage can help.

The Giants played in front of 4,753 fans at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday night, with the fans going home happy after a 3-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets.

“As a coach you try to focus on what is on the ice most, but you could feel the energy, our guys could hear it,” said Vancouver coach Jason McKee.

“Our guys really fed off that tonight.”

The crowd was the largest since the Giants first game in Langley, at the start of the 2016/17 campaign, when announced attendance at the LEC was 4,875.

And the players definitely noticed the buzz.

“We do feel a lot of the energy, we definitely build off that,” said Giants winger Ty Ronning, who notched his 40th of the season.

“I think it (crowd support) has a lot to do with our success. We love their support, the die-hard fans, and we feed off it.”

“The fans were awesome. It is so much fun playing (in an atmosphere) like this, it energizes the boys,” added goaltender David Tendeck, who finished with 28 saves and improved his goals against average to 2.93 and his save percentage to .911. Both statistics put him in the top 10.

The teams were tied at two goals apiece after Kelowna’s Leif Mattson banked the puck off a Giants defender’s stick early in the third period. But James Malm converted a two-on-one for the winning goal five minutes later, re-directing a centring pass from Dawson Holt.

It was Malm’s ninth game-winning goal (out of 17), which puts him atop the Western Hockey League in that category.

“I wouldn’t say there is any secret, I am just scoring goals at the right time,” Malm offered after his latest winner.

He also spoke after Giants practice earlier this week on the subject.

“Obviously every goal is big in this league but to get a game winner, is a different feeling than a regular goal,” he said.

“It means a bit more, that’s for sure.”

The win keeps Vancouver unbeaten in regulation over nine games (7-0-2-0) as they improved to 25-14-4-2 and their 56 points put them one back of Kelowna (27-13-2-1) for top spot in the B.C. Division. The Rockets do have two games in hand.

Malm, who also had an assist and extended his point streak to nine games (four goals, 13 points), was one of three Giants to finish with two points as Owen Hardy scored once and set up Ronning, while Holt finished with a pair of helpers.

Kelowna’s opening goal came courtesy of Connor Bruggen-Cate, as the Langley product notched his 10th of the season.

Malm was flanked by Holt and Davis Koch, who was picked up at the WHL trade deadline.

Koch, who grew up in White Rock, was thrilled with the chance to play so close to home. He also had a loud contingent of family and friends cheering him on Saturday night.

“It is pretty awesome, pretty surreal right now. I played midget in this rink so coming here to play is pretty awesome,” he said earlier this week.

Koch is familiar with playing in the LEC, having spent time with the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget Hockey League. He has also skated with Malm at Hawks camps and in the summertime, as well as being a former teammate with Valley West of current Giants defenceman Matt Barberis.

Vancouver is back in action on Friday as they host the Victoria Royals at the LEC. Game time is 7:30 p.m. It is one of two home games this weekend as the Giants also welcome Portland to town the following night at 7 p.m.



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Langley rollover crash slows traffic on 200 Street in Willoughby

Crews called to Monday afternoon collision involving two cars

Township mayor Jack Froese talks short- and long-term goals for third term

Tree bylaw, pot sales among topics that will need attention in coming months

Used election signs could serve as emergency shelters, candidate says

Langley council hopeful wants to build one-person foul weather shelters for homeless

Four-vehicle collision shuts down section of Highway 10 in Cloverdale

One driver transported to hospital with what looked to be non-life threatening injuries

Langley player to compete in first NCAA basketball tournament in Canada

Former Brookswood star Louise Forsyth to play in Vancouver Showcase

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read