Veteran forward has nine points in three games in B.C. Division hub action heading into match-up tonight versus Prince George
Tristen Nielsen rifled home the tying goal on a power play with 3:09 remaining and Eric Florchuk scored the winner on the rush with 1:57 to go as the Vancouver Giants rallied to beat the Victoria Royals 5-4 Tuesday night in WHL B.C. Division hub play at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.
Vancouver (2-1-0-0) is back at it tonight (7 p.m.) at the Sandman, taking on the Prince George Cougars (1-1-0-0).
The Giants, Royals, Cougars, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets are playing 24-game schedules out of hubs in Kamloops and Kelowna. No fans are permitted in arenas as a part of COVID-19 protocols.
Nielsen, one of Vancouver’s three overagers, scored off the face-off for his fifth goal already of the abbreviated season to knot the score at 4-4. He teamed with Justin Sourdif to set up Florchuk for the winner, Florchuk driving to the net to redirect a Nielsen pass from the right wing.
Nielsen, who’s hoping for a free-agent deal with an NHL team, is up to nine points on the season. Sourdif, the Florida Panthers’ third-round pick this fall, has seven points, all coming on assists. He had three helpers on Tuesday.
Florchuk, an overage hoping for a free-agent deal himself at the close of the campaign, had two assists to go with his goal and he’s at five points on the campaign.
Vancouver was up 2-0 in the first on goals by Zack Ostapchuk and Adam Hall, but the Royals got markers from Brandon Cutler, Tarun Fizer and Brayden Tracey to take a 3-2 lead.
Hall, with his third of the season for Vancouver, tied it on a power play midway through the third period, but Keanu Derungs found the mark on a Victoria man advantage soon after for the 4-3 cushion.
Drew Sim made 23 saves in the Vancouver net for his first-ever WHL win his fourth appearance over two seasons with Vancouver. Connor Martin turned away 28 shots for Victoria (0-3-0-0).
“I thought as the game went on we go a little bit back to our structure, a little bit more on our aggressive side of the game,” Keith McCambridge, Vancouver’s associate coach, told Giants play-by-play in the post-game interview on Sportsnet 650.
“There are going to be moments. There’s been a long layoff for the players. I thought they were mental able to push through that, find maybe not their A gamefor everybody but a close B game.”