All the offense came from the defense Friday for the Cougars, as Ryan Schoettler and Dennis Cholowski scored in the first and second period respectively, and Tavin Grant made 32-saves for his fourth win.
The win moves the Cougars into third place in the BC Division, leapfrogging the Giants and moving them into a tie with the Kelowna Rockets, who sit in second with 14 points.
Schoettler broke the scoreless deadlock halfway through the first, scoring after his initial shot was blocked. After his first shot caught the leg of the Giants’ Owen Hardy, the puck came back to Schoettler, who fired a low wrist-shot that beat Todd Scott on the glove side at 9:24. That goal was just the second career goal for the sophomore defenceman, as he scored his first WHL goal last season on the opening weekend against Victoria.
It remained 1-0 for the Cougars up until the midway mark of the second period when hometown product Dennis Cholowski found the back of the net. Jared Bethune shoveled the puck back to the point to Schoettler, who quickly swung it back across to Cholowski. The Langley native quickly fired a wrist-shot that made its way through a maze of bodies and sailed over the goalie’s blocker at 11:46; Cholowski scoring his fifth of the season.
Tavin Grant and the Cougars held the fort in the third period. Grant made a great glove save off of former Cougar Brad Morrison from right out front with five and a half minutes left, but the shutout was spoiled moments later.
Tyler Benson, who returned to Giants line up after recovering from an off-season injury, cut the deficit in half from the right-wing. With just over five-minutes left in the game, Benson came down the wing and fired a bullet over the shoulder of Grant, that quickly went in and out of the net at 15:06.
Right after that Giants goal, the Cougars almost got it right back but Brogan O’Brien was robbed by Todd Scott. O’Brien and Aaron Boyd worked the puck down the left-wing, before Boyd threw it back to the middle to O’Brien but his redirect was kicked out by Scott.
Vancouver turned up the pressure in the final few minutes trying to manufacture an equalizer but Grant and the Cougars shut them down. Grant saved his best for last, as he stopped Ty Ronning, the Giants leading scorer, on a breakaway with half a minute left.
The Cougars took a stab at the Giants empty-net, but had a shot blocked at the Vancouver blue-line, leading to Ronning being sprung on a breakaway the other way. The speedy Vancouver forward couldn’t put the puck past Grant, who laid down his left pad to deny Ronning of a tying goal.
Final Score: 2-1 Cougars
Shots: 33-29 Giants
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-4 Vancouver 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Dennis Cholowski 2) Tavin Grant 3) Tyler Benson
Prince George (5-5-2-2) improved their road record to 4-1-0-2 with the win and have points in six straight road games dating back to October 1st. Tavin Grant has now stopped 66 of the last 68 shots he faced. That’s a .971 save percentage in his las two starts.
The Cougars face the Kelowna Rockets (6-5-1-0) Saturday night at Prospera Place. This is the third meeting of the season between the two teams, as the Rockets won the previous two encounters in overtime. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The Goat, or they can watch the WHL pay-per-view webcast online via www.whl.ca
-Prince George Cougars