Thunderbirds sweep the Cougars

 

The Seattle Thunderbirds are leaving Prince George with four points after their 7-4 win Wednesday, at the CN Centre.

The Thunderbirds not only sweep the two-game set in BC’s northern capital but sweep the four-game season series as well.

Prince George took a 3-2 lead in the second period, after a back-and-forth opening 20-minutes, but the Thunderbirds outscored the Cougars 5-1 over the final two periods.

Aaron Boyd, Max Kryski, Josh Maser and Jack Sander scored in the loss for Prince George, and Taylor Gauthier stopped 37 of 44 shots.

Not only were there 11 goals between the two teams but the offense was spread around, as Seattle got goals from seven different players.

Seattle opened the scoring, eight-minutes into the game, as rookie Mike MacLean scored his first WHL goal after a scramble in front of the Cougars net. Gauthier stopped two Thunderbirds out front, before MacLean slapped a second rebound through Gauthier’s legs at 7:53.

Prince George didn’t waste much time getting on equal footing, as Aaron Boyd tied it up a minute after MacLean’s goal. Josh Curtis threw the puck out front and Boyd quickly put the puck upstairs over a sprawled out Dorrin Luding; Boyd picking up his ninth of the season.

The goals kept coming, as Seattle made it 2-1 just 43-seconds after the Boyd goal.  Matt Wedman pounced on a turnover in the Cougars end, tracking down the loose puck in the slot, before putting a backhand over Gauthier’s blocker.

Prince George had a rebuttal for that goal too, as Max Kryski made it 2-2 not even two-minutes later. Kryski dumped the puck in off the wall behind the net and had it bounce right back out to him in front, and he whacked his own rebound underneath Luding’s pads at 11:11; Kryski scoring in back-to-back games.

The Cougars grabbed their first, and what turned out to be their only lead of the game with six-minutes left in the opening frame. On a power-play, Josh Maser got his stick to Jackson Leppard’s shot and tipped it up and over the glove of Dorrin Luding at 13:53; his team-leading 21st goal.

In the second, Seattle counter-punched with two goals to regain the lead. Jaxan Kaluski tied it 3-3, seven-minutes into the middle frame. Kaluski found a loose puck sitting behind Gauthier in the crease and poked it in. Gauthier stopped the shot from the left-wing, but the puck trickled through him and sat in the crease for Kaluski to jam it in at 7:14.

The T-Birds retook the lead on the power-play, as Sami Moilanen hammered home a one-time from the slot at 11:29 to make it 4-3. Moilanen found an opening in front and took a pass off the goal-line, going down to a knee to muscle at shot past Gauthier.

Seattle added to their lead in the third, with Dillon Hamaliuk making it 5-3 five-minutes in. Noah Philip dug the puck out of a crowd behind the Cougars net, and found an open Hamaliuk out front, who went to his backhand and tucked the puck up underneath the cross-bar at 4:55.

The Cougars made it a one-goal game again and did so, not even three-minutes later. On another power-play, Jack Sander jumped off the bench, and took a pass in the face-off circle, squeezing his shot underneath the Seattle goalie at 7:47; Sander’s first goal since November 10.

Zack Andrusiak added an insurance marker on a late Seattle power-play. Andrusiak took a pass in the face-off circle, and fired a dart up and over Gauthier’s glove, which sent the water bottle flying with three and a half minutes left.

Nolan Volcan put the finishing touches on the win, making it 7-4, after he cleaned up a rebound in the crease with just over two-minutes left in the third period.

FINAL SCORE: 7-4 Seattle

Shots: 44-22 Seattle

Power-Plays: Cougars 2-5 Seattle 2-6

Three Stars: 1) Dillon Hamaliuk 2) Aaron Boyd 3) Mike MacLean

The Cougars (17-22-4-3) are back at it Friday, when they face the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a weekend doubleheader; face-off is 7 pm. Fans can purchase their tickets at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca

-Prince George Cougars

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