It is fair to say David Tendeck has taken a firm grasp on the No. 1 goaltending job with the Vancouver Giants.
Tendeck stopped all 40 shots he faced on Sunday in posting his second shutout in the past four games, a 2-0 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars at the Langley Events Centre.
He also made 21 saves in Friday’s 3-1 win over the Victoria Royals and his stellar back-to-back performances earned Tendeck the Western Hockey League’s goaltender of the week award.
But the 18-year-old Tendeck’s run of good play goes further back than just this past weekend.
Since Dec. 1, he has won all six of his games while posting a .949 save percentage and has also won nine of his last 11 games.
‘The game is slowing down for me and the boys are making it really easy on me too,” Tendeck explained after Sunday’s victory, Vancouver’s sixth straight win which improved the team to 18-13-2-2 and has them just three points out of first place in the WHL’s B.C. Division.
“(Just) seeing the puck well and the team is doing a good job of clearing the screens and giving me easy shots.”
Buoyed by that run of strong play, Tendeck is 12-6-0-1 with two shutouts and a 2.90 goals against average and a .913 save percentage for the season. By comparison, in his rookie season in 2016/17 with the Giants, the North Vancouver goaltender was 5-14-0-0 with a 4.78 GAA and an .856 save percentage.
In seven games this season, he has allowed 35 goals. And in his other 12 starts — plus one relief appearance — Tendeck has surrendered just 21 goals.
“I am seeing more than I did when I first got in the league,” Tendeck said, adding he feels much more comfortable in the crease this season.
He was a sixth round pick of the Giants in the 2014 WHL bantam draft.
In Sunday’s game — which was Teddy Bear Toss night — neither team scored for the first 51:33 until Matt Barberis teed up the puck for Bowen Byram, with the defenceman’s blast from the point getting past Prince George’s Tavin Grant.
And that stuck for the winner as Tendeck stopped everything Prince George threw his way, including 15 saves in the third period alone.
Both teams were playing their third game in less than 48 hours as Vancouver had won 3-1 Friday in Langley against the Royals and 6-2 the following night in Victoria.
Giants head coach Jason McKee said fatigue was evident for both teams.
“It was one of those that wasn’t picture perfect, but they found a way to win,” he said.
Ty Ronning iced the game with an empty-net goal with 60 seconds remaining.
Vancouver has now won six straight and eight of nine games.
The team is off for the holiday break, returning to practice on Dec. 26 and hosting the Everett Silvertips on Dec. 27 at the LEC.
The Silvertips lead the U.S. Division with a record of 21-13-1-1 and the game will be a battle of the Western Conference’s two hottest teams.
Everett has won nine of 10 games while Vancouver has won eight of 10.