Through the first half of the Western Hockey League season, the Swift Current Broncos have been one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference.
That didn't matter one bit to the Vancouver Giants, who made the Broncos their latest victims Tuesday with yet another Memorial Cup-calibre performance. Garry Nunn scored twice and added two assists, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Brent Regner had a goal and two assists apiece to lead the Giants to an 8-1 thrashing of the Broncos.
The Giants (28-2-0-3) scored three times in the first and four times in the second en route to their seventh victory in a row. Pierro-Zabotel's three-point performance moved him into sole possession of second place in the WHL scoring race with 54 points (15 goals, 39 assists), one fewer than Brett Sonne of the Calgary Hitmen.
The Giants opened the scoring at 12:25 of the first period. Pierro-Zabotel found Gary Nunn alone the slot and he beat Swift Current's Travis Yonkman over his right shoulder.
Their next goal came on their very next shot, nine seconds later. Lance Bouma found Craig Cunningham alone in front and he scored his 14th of the season. Pierro-Zabotel added his 15th at 19:17 to round out the first.
In other WHL action, it was: Calgary 6 Saskatoon 4; Lethbridge 3 Regina 2; Prince Albert 5 Moose Jaw 4; Red Deer 1 Kelowna 0; and Medicine Hat 3 Spokane 2.
At Vancouver, the onslaught resumed at 1:12 of the second when Brent Regner let a weak shot go from the point that somehow eluded Yonkman. Yonkman's night was done about a minute later when James Wright scored Vancouver's fifth goal at 2:19. He was replaced by Mark Guggenberger.
At 11:42, Craig Schira scored his seventh of the season on the power play. Their seventh came on a speculative Brent Regner shot that found its way into the Swift Current net after rebounding off Andrej Kudrna's skate at 13:55.
Cody Eakin scored Swift Current's lone goal at 18:09 of the second on short-handed breakaway.
Nunn rounded off a good night's work for the Giants at 11:21 of the third. Guggenberger partially stopped his shot from the right side but the puck flipped over his shoulder and inched just over the line.
Vancouver goalie Tyson Sexsmith, recently cut from the Canadian world junior roster, only had to make 16 saves to record his 18th victory of the season.
Yonkman and Guggenberger combined to make 31 saves for the Broncos (20-15-0-1).
Hitmen 6 Blades 4
At Saskatoon, Kyle Bortis and Brendan Rowinski each scored twice as Calgary beat the Blades.
Paul Postma and Carson McMillan also scored for the Hitmen (30-5-1-1).
Stefan Elliott, Curtis Hamilton, Gaelan Patterson and Sam Klassen countered in defeat for Saskatoon (24-10-0-2).
Hurricanes 3 Pats 2
At Regina, Dwight King's second-period game winner led Lethbridge past the Pats.
Cam Braes and Cody Castro added goals for the Hurricanes (20-14-0-1).
Mitch Czibere and Brett Leffler scored for Regina (18-15-1-4).
Raiders 5 Warriors 4
At Moose Jaw, Sask., Brandon Herrod scored two goals and added two assists as Prince Albert shaded the Warriors.
Justin Bernhardt scored twice and Ryan McDonald had a single for the Raiders (15-21-2-0).
Jason Bast, Martin Filo and Joel Broda answered for Moose Jaw (10-22-0-2).
Rebels 1 Rockets 0
At Red Deer, Alta., Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 shots in the Rebels' win over Kelowna.
Colin Archer scored a first-period goal for Red Deer (14-18-0-5).
Adam Brown made 26 saves for Kelowna (19-14-0-0).
Tigers 3 Chiefs 2
At Spokane, Wash., Sean Ringrose scored the game winner as Medicine Hat edged the Chiefs.
Josh Koper and Mark Isherwood also had goals for the Tigers (21-10-3-3).
Blake Gal and Jared Spurgeon replied for the Chiefs (20-11-0-3).