Vancouver NW Giants 4 - St. John's Maple Leafs 2
GIANTS ADVANCE, LEAFS GO HOME
It was a hard-fought battle between two teams from opposite ends of the country on Friday night with a TELUS Cup semi-final berth on the line and the Vancouver North West Giants came out on top, scoring a 4-2 win over the St. John’s Maple Leafs in Carstairs, AB.
A scoreless game through 20 minutes, Vancouver’s Landon Ferraro got his team on the board first, converting on a Giants powerplay three minutes into the middle frame. Ferraro took a pass from Stefan Elliott and beat St. John’s goaltender Kyle Downer low to the blocker side.
Ferraro made it a two-goal game four minutes later, again connecting with the man advantage.
The Giants pushed the lead to three less than three minutes after Ferraro’s second goal, as Matt Mackenzie’s shot from behind the net found its way past Downer.
Chris Thorne got the Maple Leafs back to within two just over a minute after Mackenzie’s goal, finishing off a three-minute flurry of scoring by beating Giants goaltender Graeme Gordon.
The teams exchanged goals in the final 20 minutes to round out the scoring. Aaron Klatt got the Vancouver marker, while Vincent Paiement replied for the Maple Leafs.
The Atlantic Region champions put immense pressure on Gordon and the Vancouver defense down the stretch, but the Giants netminder held the fort, making 18 of his 44 saves in the final period.
“We faced a tough team that came in and had some good chances,” said Giants assistant coach Aaron Thom following the game. “Our goaltender was our best player tonight, and he was a huge reason we got the win.”
The Giants will take on the host Red Deer Optimist Rebels in Saturday’s second semi-final. The Optimist Rebels topped the Pacific representatives 5-0 in the round-robin, in a game that was 1-0 heading to the final 20 minutes.
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PREVIEW: GIANTS, MAPLE LEAFS LOOK TO CLINCH SEMI-FINAL SPOT
Both the Vancouver North West Giants and the St. John’s Maple Leafs still have semi-final aspirations at the 2007 TELUS Cup, making Friday’s match-up in Carstairs, AB, on the final day of the round-robin, very intriguing.
The Giants surprised many with their 4-1 win over the Séminaire Saint-François Blizzard on Thursday, pulling their record back to .500 at 2-2. The first B.C. team in six years to play at the National Midget Championship, the Giants have proven themselves as solid medal contenders.
Vancouver used special teams to top the Quebec champions, getting two goals on the powerplay and another shorthanded as they rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit. Kyle Nielsen was spectacular in the Giants’ goal, picking up Player of the Game honours after a 39-save performance.
St. John’s finally broke into the win column on Thursday night, scoring a 4-1 win over Sault Ste. Marie in Olds, AB. The win kept the semi-final hopes alive for the Atlantic Region champions, who finished fifth a year ago in Charlottetown, PE.
The Maple Leafs’ best players were their best players on Thursday, as Vincent Paiement and Chad Earle scored goals, while Kyle Downer stopped 32 shots in a Player of the Game performance.
The Giants and Maple Leafs can qualify for the semi-final with a win, while the Giants can also get in with a Saint-François loss, as they hold the tie-breaker over the Blizzard after Thursday’s win. Regardless, both teams will take to the ice at Red Deer Arena looking for two points, and momentum heading into semi-final Saturday.