Giants Snap Winless Streak At 13

By Jason Nacci

A strong 3rd period for the Giants resulted in a refreshing 6-3 win over the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday night. Bucking a recent trend, the Giants play actually improved as the game progressed, and they never trailed in the contest.

Several Vancouver players had strong, productive games, and Donald Choukalos was rock solid between the pipes making 32 saves. To echo coach Milan Dragicevic’s thoughts, between Choukalos and Brett Jaeger, there is no goaltending weakness with this team.

The last game between these two teams on October 28th saw the Americans notch 5 goals in the first period and cruise to an 8-2 win. There would be no such blow-out for the visitors on this night …

The Giants should have led 2-1 going into the first intermission, but Tri-City centerman Tyler Dyck slid the puck between Choukalos’ skate and the post just as the buzzer sounded. A late goal like that could have been demoralizing for the expansion Giants. However, to their credit Vancouver came out and played stronger in the 2nd frame than the first, and got the go-ahead short-handed goal in the 6th minute. Darren Lynch was fore checking in the Americans’ end, stole the puck from the Tri-City defenseman, moved out in front of the net and put it past Americans’ netminder Tyler Weiman.

At 4:25 of the third period, the Americans tied the game on a lucky goal. Jason Beeman took the shot, it pinballed off a couple skates and surprised the goalie, then dribbled in across the line.

The turning point of the game came just a minute later, with the Lynch – Nick Marach – Jeremy Jackson line as the catalyst. Nifty passing led to a Marach shot that was stopped but not frozen by Weiman. With the whistle not yet blown, Marach stood in the crease and jabbed away at the goalie’s pads. His tenacity drew the attention of big Sean Curry, a 6’5′” 230 lb defenceman (and a 2001 draftee of the Carolina Hurricanes). A scrum ensued, sticks got high, Curry pulled the feisty winger away from the net, the gloves came off, but immediately the two were tackled to the ice by the two linesmen. However, Curry wasn’t tied up properly and was able to take at least 6 more swings at Marach who was being pinned beneath 350 lbs of zebra. When it was over Marach got up unharmed and though he was assessed a 2 minute penalty for roughing, Curry received a total of 6 minutes for his actions (high-sticking, double roughing). Marach missed the first two minutes of the 4 minute power play, but when he got out of the box, he, Jackson and Lynch immediately started creating chances. The payoff came with just 17 seconds left in the man advantage, when pressure on the net produced a flurry of close-in shots, and a big juicy rebound was jumped upon and put away by pinching defenseman David Selthun.

The Americans kept up the pressure, but Choukalos was able to preserve the lead in spectacular fashion with two huge saves in the 11th minute.

Ryan Thomas got the insurance goal with just 2:06 left in the game. Looking very similar to Lynch’s second period goal, Thomas, working hard as the sole fore checker, stole the puck from the defenseman in the corner, walked out in front of the net and beat the netminder up high, unassisted. In the 19th minute Lynch scored his second of the game into the empty cage.

Selthun and Josh Bonar had Vancouver’s first period goals and Dustin Barker had Tri-City’s opening tally.

This is the 3rd loss in a row for the Americans, and their road record falls to 3-8-0-0. However they still have a winning record overall at 11-10-2-0.

The Giants now have 13 points, one better than the Seattle Thunderbirds, the team that they are battling with to STAY OUT OF LAST PLACE. This is the first win for Vancouver in 14 games. Their last win came on October 19th, a 3-2 home win against Spokane. (Good Lord! That’s over a month ago!)

Vancouver’s next game is against those Thunderbirds, Friday, November 23rd.

Player Notes:

Nick Marach is good. Hard working, intense, speedy, fearless, smart, tough, a leader … what did I miss? The Giants describe him as a heart and soul player. Damn right! That’s why he’s the captain. He fore checks with enthusiasm, and is a tireless defender. He also leads the team with 11 goals. His parents must be proud.

Selthun, Marach, Jackson, Lynch and Thomas all had 2 point nights.

16 year old defenceman Mark Ashton played a good game for Vancouver. He looked poised in his own end, played the body well, and halfway through the second, held his own in a scrap. On the other side, blue liner and Port Moody, BC native Brad Zanon had a good game for Tri-City, taking hard shots on net and dishing out hits.

Eric Johansson was a force in the first period for the Americans, getting good chances and recording an assist. However, in the 2nd and 3rd periods he was a non-factor. Johansson leads his team in goals (15) and points (28), and was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2000.