Giants skate to 5-3 win over Cougars

 

The Prince George Cougars comeback bid came up just short Friday, as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Vancouver Giants at the CN Centre.

Tyler Benson scored twice, including the empty-net goal with less than half a minute left in regulation, as the Giants strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since November 12. James Malm, Ty Ronning and Milos Roman also scored for the Giants, and David Tendeck stopped 32 of 35 shots in the Vancouver net.

Jared Bethune, Josh Anderson and Josh Maser score for Prince George, who are now winless in their last five. Tavin Grant was tagged with the loss, stopping 30 of 34 shots.

It was the Giants first win against the Cougars this season, avenging a 2-1 loss at the Langley Events Centre on October 27th, in the season series opener. These two teams go at it again tomorrow night at the CN Centre.

Roman opened the scoring for the Giants late in the first period, spinning and firing a shot past the glove of Grant from the face-off circle at 13:49. Vancouver killed-off six-minutes in Cougars power-play time prior to that goal, including a four-minute power-play after Owen Hardy was called for slew-footing.

Prince George had their chances in the first period, including Jared Bethune rifling a wrist-shot off the post from the slot. Jackson Leppard was stopped right in the crease by Tendeck, as he couldn’t stuff the puck underneath the goalie’s pad.

Vancouver came out swinging in the second, scoring less than a minute in. Milos Roman took the puck behind the Cougars’ net and before he circled the goal, he spun a pass back out front to Ty Ronning, who went to his backhand to beat Grant on the blocker-side. Ronning scoring his team-leading 26th goal just 37-seconds into the middle frame.

The Giants padded their lead five-minutes later, as Tyler Benson got just enough of his stick on a shot from the wing to tip it in on the short-side to make it 3-0. Brendan Semchuk curled to the boards on the right-wing and his wrist-shot got through a crowd, and was tipped by Benson before going past Grant on the glove-side at 5:56.

The Cougars had an immediate response as Jared Bethune scored 17-seconds after Benson to get the home team on the scoresheet. Aaron Boyd got to the puck behind the net and centered to an open Bethune, who went upstairs over the goalie’s shoulder. Bethune scoring his second in as many games, to make it 3-1 early in the middle stanza.

Vancouver went back up by three in the back half of the second and it was their power-play doing the damage. Dylan Plouffe walked in on the right-wing but his shot hit the base of the post. Luckily for Vancouver, the puck squirted right to Malm, who guided the rebound into an open net at 13:46.

Prince George didn’t wilt and got back within two in the final two-minutes of the second period. Josh Curtis grabbed the puck behind the net, and sent it back up top to the blue-line. Josh Anderson let go a wrist-shot that sailed past everyone and into the back of net. The Colorado Avalanche prospect scoring his first goal of the season with just two-minutes left in the second.

The Cougars arguably best period was in the third, as they outshot the Giants 13-10 and they had the bulk of scoring chances.

Brogan O’Brien thought he made it a 4-3 game midway through the third but the goal was disallowed after the referee blew the play dead. David Tendeck fumbled the puck trying to freeze it in his crease. The puck shot out to O’Brien after the goalie blunder and he put it in but the whistle had already blown.

The Cougars did get that third goal, on a power-play, late in regulation. The Cougars pulled the goalie to make it a six-on-four advantage, and it paid off as Josh Maser scored with just seconds left in the man-advantage. O’Brien fired a pass from the wall to the net, that Maser got a piece of as he was standing at the top of the crease. Maser picking up his seventh with just over two-minutes left.

Prince George once again pulled the goalie to make it a six-on-five in the final two-minutes but they couldn’t manufacture an equalizer. Benson sealed it with under half a minute left, picking off an errant pass in the neutral zone and sliding the puck into an empty-net.

Final Score: 5-3 Giants

Shots: 35-35

Power-Plays: Cougars 1-5 Giants 1-2

Three Stars: 1) Ty Ronning 2) Milos Roman 3) Jared Bethune

Prince George (9-14-2-2) goes for the weekend split tomorrow night against Vancouver (12-12-2-2) at 7 pm. Tickets for the game are available at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca

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