For the first time since January, 2012, the Kamloops Blazers are leaving Prince George with a sweep, after their 4-1 win Saturday night over the Prince George Cougars at the CN Centre.
The Blazers (2-9-0-0), posted back-to-back 4-1 wins on the weekend after starting the season 0-9-0-0. Luc Smith, Nick Chyzowski, Ondrej Gala and Connor Zary scored for the visitors, and Dylan Ferguson stopped 17 of 18 shots in goal.
Dennis Cholowski scored the Cougars only goal in the first, as the offence dried up, as Prince George was held to just five shots over the last 40-minutes of the game. Taylor Gauthier suffered the loss in goal, stopping 30 of 34 shots but was named the game’s third star.
It wasn’t the start the Cougars wanted in their final game of a five-game home stand, as Luc Smith opened the scoring just a minute and a half in. Jermaine Loewen came out of the corner and poked the puck to Smith in the middle, and he spun and fired a shot low and past the pad of Gauthier at 1:36.
The Cougars picked up their game after that and carried the play in the last half of the first and were rewarded with a late goal by Cholowski. Just as a four-on-four sequence was coming to an end, Aaron Boyd streaked down the right-wing and fired a pass out front for the pinching Cholowski. Blazers’ defenceman Luke Zazula wiped out his own goalie, as he took the legs out from underneath Ferguson, after he tripped on the back-check. With both Ferguson and Zazula out of the net, Cholowski fired the puck into the gaping six-by-four for his fourth at 14:25; officially going down as a power-play goal.
After being outshot 6-1 in the early stages of the game, the Cougars came back to outshoot the Blazers 12-1 in the final half of the first and earn a split after 20-minutes.
The game started to turn in the middle frame though, as the Cougars took back-to-back penalties in the first nine-minutes and never could gain traction after that. Despite only mustering one shot on goal in the period, Prince George was in a 1-1 deadlock with the Blazers up until the final half-minute of the frame; that’s where things quickly changed.
Nick Chyzowski, the Kamloops Captain, forced a turnover along the wall and walked in down the right-wing, before going upstairs over the shoulder of Gauthier on the near side with just 18-seconds left in the period. On the very next shift, the Blazers got the puck back after a dump in and worked it back to the blue-line. Vala had his wrist-shot sail through a crowd and past a surprised Gauthier with just three and a half seconds left in the period. Two Blazers’ goals in 15-seconds.
In that second period, Kamloops wounded up outshooting the Cougars 13-1. Prince George’s best chance came when Nikita Popugaev bursted down the right-wing with a head full of steam, but he cranked a slap-shot high and wide from the right-wing circle.
Connor Zary added a fourth Blazers’ goal late in the third period. The rookie forward came down the left-wing, cut to the middle and squeezed his backhand attempt through the arm of Gauthier and in at 17:42; all three of his goals have come against Prince George this season.
Final Score: 4-1 Blazers
Shots: 34-18 Blazers
Power-Plays: Cougars 1-4 Blazers 0-5
Three Stars: 1) Jermaine Loewen 2) Nick Chyzowski 3) Taylor Gauthier
Prince George (3-5-2-0) finishes their five-game home stand with a 1-2-2-0 mark, and now head out on a seven-game road trip starting Friday in Edmonton. The Cougars also make stops in Red Deer and Calgary on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. All three games can be heard on 94.3 The Goat, or fans can watch online at WHL Live.