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Ronning's late goal the game-winner as Giants bump slump

Top line of James Malm, Ty Ronning and Brayden Watts combine for four goals, eight points in 5-4 win over Kelowna at Langley Events Centre
Vancouver Giants' Tristyn DeRoose (left) celebrates his first career WHL goal in Friday night's 5-4 win over the Kelowna Rockets. DeRoose opened the scoring while Ty Ronning (below) scored the last two

Gary Ahuja

Black Press

Offensively, it was a great night. Defensively, not so much.

But all that really mattered was the Vancouver Giants coming through with a 5-4 victory.

The Giants blew a 4-1 second period lead, but Ty Ronning’s second goal of the night came with 3:25 to play to snap the 4-4 deadlock against the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre.

The win, which snapped a six-game losing streak, improved the G-Men to 17-26-1-2 while Kelowna fell to 26-17-4-0.

Ronning scored twice, James Malm had a goal and three helpers and Brayden Watts had a goal and an assist as the top line combined for eight points.

“We really connected today. I felt we made some smart moves with the puck … and our d has been jumping in. It was a whole team effort,” Ronning said.

The trio have been clicking as of late with Ronning citing good chemistry.

But while the chemistry may have been ‘on’ in the offensive zone, their defensive play was a bit lacking, cautioned head coach Jason McKee.

“Lots of work to do in their own end, but offensively, they were good,” he said.

“They were cycling the puck, they were elusive, that is the biggest thing. All three of them are quick, the puck doesn’t die on their sticks, they make play, they are quick and they make plays.

Vancouver led 2-1 after one period with Tristyn DeRoose scoring his first career WHL goal and then Watts wristing home a shot on the power play.

DeRoose’s goal came after a strong forecheck as Calvin Spencer forced a turnover behind the net, with Tyler Popowich feeding a wide-open DeRoose in front.

The big winger quickly slipped the puck past Kelowna goalie Brodan Salmond.

The Giants doubled their lead on the power play as Watts walked in to the face-off circle and hammered a shot in.

The Rockets would get one back before the period was out as the Giants defence pair got crossed up on a two-on-two, which left Calvin Thurkauf free to walk in and roof the puck short-side on Ryan Kubic.

The second period saw Malm get credited with a goal on a delayed Giants penalty, as Kelowna’s Carsen Twarynski threw the puck to the point with the puck eluding all the Rocket players and sliding into the empty net.

Six minutes later, Malm picked off a pass at the Kelowna blue-line and fed Ronning — who was banging his stick on the ice calling for the puck — for the one-timer.

But as has been the case for too many games this season, the Giants let the opposition back in the game.

While short-handed, the Rockets won a race for the puck in the Vancouver zone and Twarynski fed Cal Foote, with the defenceman side-stepping a fallen Giants defender to beat Kubic. And 80 seconds later, it was a one-goal game with Foote’s weak shot from the sideboards hitting Kyle Topping and going in.

Kelowna tied the score 7:15 into the the third period on a power play with the puck bouncing off a Vancouver defender and past Kubic, who was sprawled out on the ice.

While happy with the victory, McKee cited the power play as needing to be better.

“Our power play needs to be a little sharper,” he said.

“We just get a little lackadaisical when the puck comes down the ice and sometimes that happens with four forwards out there.”