Near col­lapse of­fers teach­ing mo­ment

Af­ter nearly let­ting lead slide, Ron­ning says club learned its les­son

Vancouver Sun - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE EWEN sewen@post­media.com

Con­sid­er­ing how things fin­ished against the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how things start for the Van­cou­ver Giants ver­sus the Red Deer Rebels.

On Sun­day, the Giants nearly coughed up a seven-goal, third­pe­riod lead against the Oil Kings at the Lan­g­ley Events Cen­tre, hang­ing on for an 8-7 tri­umph. It was cer­tainly a messy way to im­prove their lack­lus­tre record in one-goal games, bump­ing it up to 3-6-2-2.

They don’t have to wait long to try to re­bound.

Van­cou­ver (8-8-2-2) takes on Red Deer at the LEC tonight (7 p.m., TSN 1040).

The Rebels car­ried an 8-11-1-0 record into a Tues­day visit to the Vic­to­ria Roy­als.

“We haven’t had a lead like that in a while,” said Giants winger Ty Ron­ning, the New York Rangers prospect who scored in his sev­enth straight game to up his team-lead­ing goal to­tal to 19 as part of Sun­day’s fes­tiv­i­ties. “We didn’t know how to han­dle it. We let our foot off the gas and things like that can hap­pen when you do that.

“We got the two points, but it was ugly at the end. We will learn from it, though.”

Van­cou­ver’s strug­gles the past few years are no se­cret. They have missed the play­offs three straight springs and four of the past five sea­sons. Their last vic­tory by seven goals or more was Oct. 18, 2014, when they thumped the Prince Ge­orge Cougars 9-1. The largest mar­gin of vic­tory last sea­son was four goals and they man­aged it just once. Their largest this sea­son has been three, a feat they’ve achieved five times.

On Sun­day, Davis Koch scored for Ed­mon­ton at the 11:07 mark of the third to make it 8-2 and Van­cou­ver quickly un­rav­elled. Colton Kehler made it 8-7 when he tal­lied at 19:54. The Oil Kings couldn’t man­age an­other shot, though.

It was a sixth straight loss for the Oil Kings, who are last in the WHL at 5-12-2-0.

“We hung our goalie out to dry,” Ron­ning said of Todd Scott, the rookie net­min­der who went the dis­tance in the Van­cou­ver crease. “That’s not good at all. He’s our team­mate. And he’s been play­ing so well.

“We didn’t quit. We aren’t known for that. I do think we lost fo­cus.”

Van­cou­ver is ex­pected to have stand­out rookie de­fence­man Bowen Byram, 16, in the lineup tonight. He missed the past five games while at the World Un­der-17 Hockey Chal­lenge in Daw­son Creek and Fort St. John. Byram helped Canada Red to a spot in the fi­nal, where they lost 6-4 to the Amer­i­cans. He was later named to the tour­na­ment all-star team.

Byram is among the Giants’ lead­ers in ice time, which is rare for a 16-year-old rear­guard. He has one goal and eight as­sists in 15 games with Van­cou­ver to go with a plus-6 rat­ing. He’s tied for fourth on the team in plus-mi­nus.

The Rebels, coached by Brent Sut­ter, had dropped six straight (0-5-1-0) head­ing into Tues­day’s game on Van­cou­ver Is­land.

The Giants are at the Kam­loops Blaz­ers on Fri­day and then home to the Kelowna Rock­ets on Satur­day.

BEN NELMS/GETTY IMAGES

Ty Ron­ning, cen­tre, and the Van­cou­ver Giants nearly let a seven-goal lead slip away Sun­day against the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings. The vis­i­tors scored six times in the game’s fi­nal nine min­utes to turn an 8-1 laugher into a one-goal vic­tory for the Lan­g­ley Events Cen­tre hosts.

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