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WHL: Giants hold off late Chilliwack rally

The Canadian Press

12/8/2008 12:31:17 AM

Lance Bouma's goal with 3:49 left in regulation lifted the Vancouver Giants to a 3-2 Western Hockey League victory over the Chilliwack Bruins on Sunday night.

Bouma's eighth goal of the season spoiled Chilliwack's comeback hopes. The Bruins trailed 2-0 after the first period but rallied for two goals in the third.

James Henry and Casey Pierro-Zabotel also scored for the Giants (23-2-0-3), while Jon Blum recorded two assists, before a crowd of 6,244 at the Pacific Coliseum.

Kevin Sundher, on a penalty shot, and Ryan Howse answered for the Bruins (9-19-2-2) as they suffered their eighth straight loss.

The Giants posted their fourth victory in five meetings this season with their regional rivals. But Vancouver's league-leading offence struggled to score despite enjoying a 34-20 advantage in shots.

Chilliwack, playing its third game in as many nights, rarely threatened until midway through the third, but Bruins goaltender Mark Friesen kept his team in the game.

Elsewhere in the WHL, Calgary beat Seattle 4-1 and Regina downed Red Deer 4-2.

At Vancouver, Chilliwack went scoreless on three power plays while Vancouver was also blanked on three chances.

Henry, playing with a full face shield after suffering a cut lip that required seven stitches Saturday against Saskatoon, opened scoring for the Giants 6:17 into game as he deflected Bronson Maschmeyer's shot in mid-air past Friesen.

Pierro-Zabotel put the Giants ahead 2-0 about seven minutes on a shot that was redirected off a Chilliwack player in front.

Chilliwack had few chances in the opening 20 minutes as the Giants enjoyed a 10-4 edge in shots.

The Giants controlled play again in the second period as they outshot the Bruins 12-6. The Bruins lost centre Matt Meropoulis for the rest of the game in the middle frame as he suffered a leg injury while blocking a shot.

Friesen was inadvertently bowled over by teammate Carter Berg late in the second period. Friesen lay on his back for a few moments but stayed in the game.   He was bowled over again in the first five minutes of the third period by Vancouver centre Todd Kennedy but still managed to prevent the Giants from scoring as he quickly recovered while play resumed.

Sundher's penalty-shot goal pulled the Bruins within a goal at 7:16 of the third period. The penalty was awarded after Vancouver defenceman Neil Manning took him down on a breakaway.

Howse drew the Bruins even two minutes and four seconds later. Standing by the side of the goal, he deflected Brett Ward's point shot over Vancouver goaltender Tyson Sexsmith, setting the stage for Bouma's late heroics.

Hitmen 4 Thunderbirds 1

At Seattle, Brett Sonne added to his WHL-leading point total with two goals, leading Calgary over the Thunderbirds.

Carson McMillan and Brandon Kozun also scored for Calgary (26-5-1-1).

Greg Scott replied for Seattle (13-15-1-2).

Pats 4 Rebels 2

At Red Deer, Alta., Brett Lefler scored twice and set up another goal as Regina defeated the Rebels.

Jordan Eberle and Matt Strueby also scored for Regina (18-13-1-3).

Landon Ferraro and Luke Egener answered for Red Deer (11-17-0-5).