VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A simple glance at the standings and it’s easy to see why the Vancouver Giants are by far the top team in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference.
They’ve kept their regulation loss column to a single digit and reached yet another franchise pinnacle Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Spokane Chiefs, it was at their expense.
Adam Basford and Craig Cunningham each had a goal and an assist and five players scored as the Giants defeated the Chiefs 5-2 in front of 6,537 fans at the Pacific Coliseum.
The loss kept Spokane eight points behind the rival Tri-City Americans in the U.S. Division standings with one game in hand.
The victory was Vancouver’s 50th of the season – a club record.
Andrej Kudrna scored 2 minutes into the game to give Vancouver (50-7-1-3) an early lead. James Wright delivered an outlet pass to Kudrna, who wristed the shot past Chiefs goalie Dustin Tokarski. The shot – which made it through Tokarski’s five-hole – wasn’t one that would typically get by Tokarski.
One definite positive to Spokane’s game was the way it tied the scored at 5:13.
Rookie defenseman Brenden Kichton scored his first career WHL goal when he fired in a slapshot from the blue line that flew past veteran Giants goalie Tyson Sexsmith.
Spokane (39-19-0-3) then took a 2-1 lead – which would be their only lead of the night, and a short-lived one at that.
Steve Kuhn took a shot from the left circle and Sexsmith blocked the puck, which rebounded directly in front of the crease and into the low slot. Spokane’s Blake Gal tied up a Vancouver defenseman and Kuhn got to the rebound of his shot and scored his eighth goal of the season.
Vancouver’s Evander Kane knotted the score again later in the period when he tapped in a power-play goal on a deflection of Brent Regner’s shot from the blue line. At the end of the first period the teams were tied.
Basford broke the tie a little more than 7 minutes into the second period with a backhanded shot that drifted into the net, and Cunningham extended the lead when he scored with less than a minute remaining in the second period.
Craig Schira rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute of play.
Spokane was 0 for 3 on the power play and 5 of 6 on the penalty kill. … Spokane continues its four-games-in-five-nights stretch tonight in Kamloops in the first meeting between the teams since Spokane dealt Seth Compton to the Blazers in exchange for Brady Calla. The Chiefs return home Friday to host the Portland Winter Hawks and wrap up the week on Saturday night against the Tri-City Americans at the Arena. … Despite allowing Vancouver to score five goals, Tokarski remains atop the league with a 1.87 goals-against average.
Giants 5, Chiefs 2
First Period—1, Vancouver, Kudrna 17 (Wright, Regner), 1:58. 2, Spokane, Kichton 1 5:13. 3, Spokane, Kuhn 8 (Gal, Miller), 7:54. 4, Vancouver, Kane 41 (Regner, Ross), 14:36 (pp). Second Period—5, Vancouver, Basford 10 (Cunningham, Rodgers), 7:18. 6, Vancouver, Cunningham 25 (Basford, Henry), 19:13. Third Period—7, Vancouver, Schira 16 (Berube, Henry), 19:52. Power-play Opp.—Spokane 0 of 3; Vancouver 1 of 5. Saves—Tokarski 11-11-12—34. Vancouver 8-8-6—22. A—6,537.