It’s the first time the Cougars have won back-to-back games since October 4th. Brogan O’Brien scored twice, including a rare short-handed five-on-three goal midway through the third period, and Dennis Cholowski, Kody McDonald and Vladislav Mikhalchuk added singles.
Taylor Gauthier, in his first start since returning from the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, stopped 25 of 26 shots for his second win. Gauthier was particularly sharp in the third period when the Cougars ran into penalty trouble.
Trey Fix-Wolanksy spoiled Gauthier’s shutout bid early in the third period, as Prince George led 2-0 after one and 4-0 after two periods. Travis Child was saddled with the loss, as he surrendered four goals on 40-shots.
Friday was the Oil King’s eighth straight loss, as their winless streak dates all the way back to October 20th, when they beat the Cougars 5-4 in shootout at Rogers Place.
Prince George has now strung together two straight wins and extended their home win streak over Edmonton to five. The Oil Kings haven’t won in Prince George since February, 2015.
Like Wednesday in Kamloops, the Cougars got off to another terrific start Friday, as they scored twice in the opening 20-minutes. Cholowski had the ice-breaker, four and a half minutes into the game, as he fired his sixth of the year through traffic and underneath Child at 4:35.
Prince George used their power-play to double their lead late in the first period. On their second crack with the man-advantage, Cholowski set up Kody McDonald for the one-timer that went post-and-in from the left-wing at 15:23. McDonald scoring not only his team-leading 12th goal of the season but also his team-best fourth power-play goal.
The score remained unchanged until late in the second period, when Brogan O’Brien scored his first of two on the night. McDonald did most of the dirty work, intercepting the puck at the Oil Kings’ blue-line before poking it ahead to a wide open O’Brien. The 20-year-old quickly went to his backhand, tucking the puck around Child at 15:55. Prince George was at it again not even a minute and a half later.
Vladislav Mikhalchuk picked up the puck along the wall on the left side and found a soft spot, darting to the net and he finished by sliding the puck around the outstretched pad of Child at 17:16.
The Cougars led 4-0 through two periods and were outshooting the Oil Kings 27-15.
Prince George got into some penalty trouble early on in the third, which resulted in Edmonton being handed a two-man advantage , after the Cougars took penalties 64-seconds apart. The Oil Kings, more specifically, Fix-Wolansky broke up Gauthier’s shutout bid, stuffing in the puck at the side of the net.
After Conner McDonald just kept the puck in at the blue-line, Fix-Wolansky took a pass down on the goal-line and he found daylight between the post and the goalie’s pad just before the three-minute mark to make it 4-1.
The Cougars got that goal back for their young puck-stopper, as O’Brien bagged his second of the game midway through the third and with the Cougars down to just three skaters. On the penalty-kill, O’Brien won a footrace to the puck down the right-wing, and barged his way on goal. O’Brien initially looked like he scored when he stuff it in on the near-side, but there was no signalled from either official. After a discussion among the two referees, then a short video review, the goal counted. The five-on-three short-handed goal was O’Brien’s third goal since Wednesday.
Final Score: 5-1 Cougars
Shots: 40-26 Cougars
Power-Plays: Cougars 1-5 Edmonton 1-6
Three Stars: 1) Brogan O’Brien 2) Kody McDonald 3) Dennis Cholowski
The Cougars (8-9-2-2) welcomed back Josh Anderson and Liam Ryan to the line-up Friday night. Anderson had missed the last 14-games with an upper-body injury. Ryan missed a week of action after being hurt in the Cougars’ loss in Everett back on November 3rd. The win Friday pushed the Cougars wins streak to five at home against Edmonton. The win, coupled with the Vancouver Giants loss in Kamloops, moved the Cougars within two points of third place in the BC Division.
The two teams meet again Saturday, the rubber match of the three-game season series; puck drop is 7 p.m. at the CN Centre.
-Prince George Cougars