A scrap at the second period buzzer turned Friday’s night’s Western Hockey League game 180 degrees, from a lacklustre affair to one in which the crowd was emotionally invested, chanting the opposing netminder’s name in hopes of rattling him.
It was a far cry from the game’s first 40 minutes, which had little intensity or emotion at the Langley Events Centre.
But a scrum at the second period buzzer changed all that.
With the teams together on the side boards, Vancouver defenceman Dmitry Osipov and Brandon Wheat Kings centre Stelio Mattheos wound up dropping the gloves, with Osipov landing several huge shots to his opponent.
And just like that, it was old-time hockey as the teams took turn taking needless penalties and gunning for big, board-rattling hits.
Altogether, the teams combined for 42 minutes in penalties in the third period alone, and the LEC crowd of 4,239 seemed to relish it.
To make it even better for the home crowd, the Giants also came away with a 2-1 overtime victory as Dylan Plouffe’s shot from the top of the circles hit Brandon’s Tyler Coulter and deflected past goaltender Logan Thompson for the decisive goal.
“We wanted to get something set up and it ended up working,” Plouffe said about the team’s strategy on the delayed call.
“(Tyler Benson) laid a perfect pass on the ice and I did what I could to get it on net.”
This was Vancouver’s third straight game which went beyond 60 minutes and with the loser-point in the first two, the team has picked up four of a possible six points, improving to 11-16-1-1. The Wheat Kings fell to 13-10-4-0.
“I liked our game from start to finish in all areas,” said Vancouver coach Jason McKee.
The coach was impressed by his team’s resolve, pointing out that in the past, the team has not been able to recover from surrendering a late goal.
“It could have been easy to let things slide (but) tonight, we stayed with it.”
Vancouver’s Matt Barberis opened the scoring in the first period, corralling a loose a puck at the side of the net and firing home his fifth of the season 6:11 into the game.
That stood as the game’s only goal until the 14-minute mark of the third period as Brandon’s James Shearer took a cross-ice pass from Connor Gutenberg and sniped a shot glove-side on Ryan Kubic.
The goal was a power-play marker as Vancouver was short-handed five times in the final 20 minutes, although many of those were abbreviated penalties.
“We have to learn from that; we took some unnecessary penalties that really could of hurt us but our PK was outstanding,” McKee said.
The bad blood seemingly came out of nowhere.
“It was a heavy game, both teams, for not knowing each other, went at it tonight,” the coach added. “There was a lot of physicality and the guys responded to that.”
Kubic, who finished with 25 saves, was the game’s second star while Thompson, who made 22 saves, was the third star.
Benson, the Giants captain was the first star, setting up the game-winning goal.
Vancouver is back in action on Dec. 3 as they travel to Kamloops to face the Blazers.
With the win, the Giants improved to 4-1 in overtime while the Wheat Kings fell to 1-4.