For 57 minutes of Friday’s game at the Pacific Coliseum, the Vancouver Giants seemed headed for a 10th consecutive game without a win.
But Ty Ronning wasn’t about to let that happen. The 18-year-old from Burnaby erased a 3-1 deficit against the Kamloops Blazers with two goals in the final two and one-half minutes of regulation time, then assisted on the winning goal by Surrey’s Trevor Cox three minutes into overtime, leading the Giants to a 4-3 victory before a crowd of 4,542.
Ronning now has 12 goals and 18 points in 20 games with the Giants this season, and was named the game’s first star.
The Giants, who are chasing the Blazers for a Western hockey League (WHL) playoff position, fell behind 1-0 after just nine minutes of play, but Surrey’s Matt Barberis tallied his third goal of the year on the powerplay three minutes before the end of the first period to tie the score 1-1.
Kamloops went ahead 2-1 late in the second period, then scored while shorthanded with 15 minutes remaining in the game for a 3-1 lead.
The Giants gambled, and pulled netminder Daniel Wapple with three minutes to go, and seconds later, Ronning gave the Giants hope when he cut the difference to one goal with 2:21 remaining.
Wapple was on the bench again when Ronning ripped a shot into the Blazers goal with nine seconds remaining, forcing overtime.
Ronning then fed Cox for the winning goal on a two-on-one rush in overtime. It was the first goal for Cox since he was acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers two weeks ago.
The Blazers outshot Vancouver 41-32, but the Giants received solid goaltending from Wapple, who made 38 saves for the win.
The Giants had a strong start to the game Saturday, leading 2-0 midway through the first period. But Portland dominated the rest of the way, cruising to a two-goal win.
Defencemen Brennan Menell and Barberis scored powerplay goals to give the Giants the early lead, but goals 92 seconds apart pulled the Winterhawks even after 20 minutes.
Portland went up 4-2 in the second period before Ronning scored to get the home team to within one. The Winterhawks held the Giants to just eight shots on goal in the third period, adding to their lead with five minutes to play.
The Giants are now 5-11-2-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss) and in the Western Conference basement.
They were at home last night (Tuesday) against the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Eastern Conference. They host Cloverdale native Tyler Soy and the Victoria Royals Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Pacific Coliseum before traveling to the Okanagan for a clash Saturday night with the Kelowna Rockets.