Getting themselves to a fifth consecutive B.C. major midget hockey final was a difficult road for the Northwest Giants.
The six-time regular season champs had to play comeback for the entire best-of-three semifinal series before besting the pesky Greater Vancouver Canadians 5-3 at the Burnaby Winter Club on Sunday.
Trailing 3-1 at one stage of the first period, the Giants fought back with a three-goal middle period, including the eventual game and series-winner from Jansen Harkins and Jarid Lukosevicius on a power play. Jackson Cressey iced the series with the only goal of the final frame.
"They simplified the game. It wasn't a pretty win and not our typical style of offence," said Giants head coach Clint Thornton.
The Giants were forced to chip the puck in and work the corners against the tight-checking Canadians, and it paid off, said Thornton.
"Our plan was to get it in deep and take it from there. They brought out their work boots and did what they had to do."
The Giants were forced to play from behind for the entire series, beginning with a 6-4 loss to Greater Vancouver in the opening game last Friday.
In Game 2, the Giants came back from a one-goal deficit to win 4-3 on Saturday and force a third-game tiebreaker.
Liam Smith backstopped wins in both games 2 and 3 for the Giants.
"(Smith) won the series for us," said Thornton of Smith's third-period goalkeeping.
"Our team has a lot of confidence in themselves. Even when we're down, we keep on working at it. They have the ability to score. Even in Game 1 we were coming on strong, but we left it too late."
The Giants will be up against a similarly difficult challenge when the offensively minded Okanagan Rockets come into town for this weekend's best-of-three series.
The third-place Rockets upset league runner-up Cariboo Cougars in straight games, winning 4-3 on the Friday and 3-2 on Saturday in the best-of-three semifinal series in Prince George.
"Okanagan play a different style, they're very offensive. We can't give them time or space. It should be a good series," said Thornton.
In the regular season series between the Giants and Rockets, both teams won on the road, while the other two games were tied.
"I think you're going to see a battle this weekend," Thornton added. "I'm excited. It shoud make for some pretty good hockey, but we can't get behind in this one."
The best-of-three final faces off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Game 2 is the following night with a 7:45 p.m. start. If necessary, a third game will be played on Sunday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. All games are at the Burnaby Winter Club.