The Vancouver Giants welcomed the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Pacific Coliseum at noon on Wednesday. You read that right. They dropped the puck at 12:00 PM on a Wednesday afternoon. This year, Family Day took place in British Columbia on February the 9th, so it wasn't a holiday that you might have forgotten. Instead, this was what the Giants like to call Hooky Day, where they encourage their supporters to avoid work or school without rhyme or reason. But it's all for a good cause: Acceptance.
Staff were given pink stickers to wear on their chests, and many of the 10,161 who were in attendance, wore pink t-shirts with the word 'acceptance' splashed across the middle. As for the match itself, a 3-2 victory for the Giants, it was relatively clean match. Both sides seemed to be on their best behaviour, as there were several dozen school buses worth of children on hand. In the end, there were only five penalties between them, and none for fighting.
Vancouver defender Mason Geertsen had a standout performance, assisting on Vancouver's first goal, and scoring the other two, the last of which was in extra time. But budding superstar Tyler Benson was not to be left out, as he setup all three of Vancouver's goals. Thomas Foster scored Vancouver's other goal, and goalkeeper Payton Lee made 23 saves to earn the victory.
"It doesn't happen too often," said Geertsen of his two-goal effort, "but they were going in today. It felt good."
"Judging from the first period, I thought it would be a tough game to win, and it turned out to be exactly that," said Giants manager Claude Noël. "Their team put a fair amount of pressure on us, and I thought we didn't handle our breakouts very good, but we found a way to win. We got some timely goals and some timely saves."
The victory extended Vancouver's lead in the British Columbia division over Don Hay's Kamloops Blazers and the Prince George Cougars to three, while they still have a game in hand on Kamloops, and two on Prince George.
Moose Jaw's Jack Rodewald opened the scoring with a 21st minute strike and the visitors enjoyed that lead for ten minutes. But then the game was stopped in the 31st minute to allow for a Celebration of Acceptance Tifo. With so many people wearing pink, when they all stood up and danced in synchrony, it created a powerful visual that was reminiscent of the Winnipeg Jets well known White Outs.
"The dance was pretty cool to watch – you try not to watch too much," added Geertsen, who thought the home team performed better after the spectacle. "Once it happen, it was like, 'Ok, back to the game.'"
It took less than ten minutes from the tifo for the Giants to score an equaliser, and a go-ahead goal. But the Warriors who are in Chynoweth Cup contention themselves, had other ideas. Spenser Jensen tied it in the 47th minute with a shot that bounced off the post and then was accidentally deflected in by Vancouver goalkeeper Payton Lee.
Both goalkeepers, Lee and Moose Jaw's Brody Willms, had to make some tough saves to keep the score tied at two, though Willms was the far more busier of the two. But in extra time, Geertsen converted a perfect pass from Benson to lift the Giants over the Warrriors for their second straight victory.
The Giants next action will be down in Portland when they play the WInterhawks on Friday, before returning to the Coliseum on Saturday when they host the conference topping Kamloops Blazers.
Man of the Match: Brody Willms
Referees: Mike Campbell and Nick Swaine
21' - MJW - Jack Rodewald (Dustin Perillat, Axel Blomqvist)
35' - VAN - Thomas Foster (Tyler Benson, Mason Geertsen)
40' - VAN - Mason Geertsen (Tyler Benson, Clayton Kirichenko)
47' - MJW - Spenser Jensen
65' - VAN - Mason Geertsen (Tyler Benson, Carter Popoff)
Shots: Vancouver 32 - Moose Jaw 25
Saves: Vancouver 23 - Moose Jaw 29
Penalty Minutes: Vancouver 6 - Moose Jaw 4
28' - VAN - Josh Thrower
34' - MJW - Ryan Gardiner
37' - VAN - Dmitry Osipov
43' - VAN - Zane Jones
50' - MJW - Tanner Eberle
1. Payton Lee; 4. Clayton Kirichenko; 8. Alec Baer; 9. Dalton Sward; 10. Zane Jones; 11. Jakob Stukel; 16. Thomas Foster; 17. Tyler Benson; 19. Jesse Roach; 21. Brennan Menell; 22. Dmitry Osipov; 23. Gage Ramsay; 26. Ryely McKinstry; 27. Jackson Houck; 32. Vladimir Bobylev; 35. Cody Porter; 36. Dakota Odgers; 42. Carter Popoff; 44. Mason Geertsen; 47. Josh Thrower
MOOSE JAW WARRIORS
3. Ryan Gardiner; 4. Dustin Perillat; 6. Dallas Valentine; 7. Tyler Brown; 8. Jesse Shynkaruk; 10. Tanner Jeannot; 12. Jayden Halbgewachs; 13. Jiri Smejkal; 14. Spenser Jensen; 15. Jack Rodewald; 18. Jaimen Yakubowski; 19. Brayden Point; 21. Brett Howden; 22. Tanner Eberle; 23. Axel Blomqvist; 27. Torrin White; 29. Austin Adam; 31. Zach Sawchenko; 32. Reid Zalitach; 35. Brody Willms