There hasn’t been much to cheer for when it comes to NHL hockey this year, so it was a treat to see more than six thousand people make some noise for Brendan Gallagher at the Pacific Coliseum tonight. The Montreal Canadiens forward of course spent four seasons with the Vancouver Giants, and finished his junior career as the franchise’s leading scorer (with 136 goals) and point getter (280).
He played for the G-Men from 2008-09 until the 2011-12 season, then spent a year in Hamilton of the AHL before being nominated for the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year with the Montreal Canadiens last year. He is currently the Habs’ fourth-leading scorer, with 32 points in 58 games.
All this while being frickin’ wee. He’s listed at 5’9″ on the NHL website, but if this guy is five-nine, I’m Zdeno Chara. I just stood beside the guy, and I could clearly see the top of his head — and I’m barely 5’8″ my bad self.
More power to him.
Get the skinny on the game after the jump.
In the game itself, the Winterhawks dominated from the get-go, taking puck possession to new heights and denying the Giants a shot on goal until well into the second half of the first period. Vancouver managed to get into the first intermission in a scoreless tie, but the Winterhawks managed to get to Payton Lee three times in the first ten minutes of the second.
Derrick Pouliot had a goal and an assist early, powering the Winterhawks to a 7–4 win for their team-best 16th straight win. The Giants, for their part, had a final push, scoring the final three goals of the game — but this was a dominant performance by a Portland team that’s healthy and firing on all cylinders at the moment.
With the loss, the Giants sit in seventh place in the Western Conference, tied in points with Everett, but the Silvertips have two games in hand. The Winterhawks remain seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets in the race for the top spot in the West.
It’s not a surprise, really, to see the Hawks convert a touchdown here; they’re the top offensive team in the entire Western Hockey League, whereas the Giants are the only Western playoff team to have given up more than 200 goals so far this season.
Payton Lee allowed seven goals on 26 shots before Jared Rathjen came in to stop all eight shots he faced. While Lee would like several of those goals back, the fact is the Winterhawks manufactured unfettered quality scoring chances for much of the first two periods. The Giants were credited with with 34 shots in the game, but let’s be honest: they had maybe a handful of true chances after the Hawks had gone ahead by six goals.
Paul Bittner, Nicolas Petan, Alex Schoenborn, Dominic Turgeon and Brendan Leipsic joined Pouliot as goal scorers for Portland. Tim Traber responded with two, and Ty Ronning and Trent Lofthouse added singles for the Giants.
Each team scored twice with the man advantage.