The Prince George Cougars saved their best for last. Ilijah Colina scored with less than three-minutes left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, as the Cougars came back to top the Brandon Wheat Kings 3-2 Friday night.
Colin scored twice, including the game-winning goal with just two and a half minutes left in regulation. His line with Jared Bethune and Ethan Brown combined for six even-strength points, as all three had multi-point games.
Isaiah DiLaura stood tall in net, kicking-out 28 of 30 shots to pick up his second career win, and in the process helped end the Cougars’ four-game winless streak.
Brandon made a push early and scored less than four-minutes into the game on the power-play. Evan Weinger sped down the right-wing and tucked a backhand through DiLaura’s legs after the goalie tried to poke-check the Wheat Kings’ forward.
The Cougars found their footing in the back half of the opening frame and almost tied it up when Brogan O’Brien showed off some fancy stick work. The 20-year-old skated down the middle, put the puck between his own legs, but his backhand bid was somehow kept out by Logan Thompson, who dove back and made a save with his stick along the ice.
After being outshot 8-3 early, the Cougars came back to outshoot the Wheat Kings 8-2 down the stretch but trailed 1-0 after the first 20-minutes.
Early in the second, Ilijah Colina tied the game, as he wacked in a bouncing puck near the top of the crease. Browne alertly flipped the puck over the net and back out front, and Colina timed it perfectly, smacking the puck past Thompson at 4:35.
Brandon’s Linden McCorrister broke the 1-1 tie midway through the middle stanza, scoring on a rebound in front of the Cougars net. Rylan Bettens was stopped by DiLaura in close but McCorrister was there to smack the rebound in at 10:33.
O’Brien looked to spark the Cougars late in the middle frame, as he dropped the gloves with Wheat Kings Captain James Shearer; O’Brien scored the takedown.
In the third, the Cougars tied it up and whilst short-handed. For the second straight game, Bethune scored on a breakaway with the Cougars short a skater. On another Wheat Kings power-play, Bethune won a foot race to the puck after it was cleared out of the Cougars zone by Joel Lakusta. Bethune showed off his great speed, pulling away from the Wheat Kings defencemen, before putting a backhand through Logan Thompson’s pads at 7:54. Bethune scoring short-handed goals in back-to-back games.
Colina gave the Cougars their first lead with just 2:23 left in regulation, as he found a soft spot in front of the Wheat Kings net. The puck was worked down to the corner, and from there, Ethan Browne chopped it out to Colina, and he roofed it over Logan Thompson’s shoulder, to make it 3-2 late; his second of the night and seventh of the season.
Brandon did pull their goalie inside the final two-minutes, but they could not capitalize on the six-on-five advantage. Prince George had a couple of near-misses with the empty net but managed to protect the lead and run down the clock.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 Cougars
Shots: 32-30 Cougars
Power-Plays: Cougars 0/2 Wheat Kings 1/3
Three Stars: 1) Jared Bethune 2) Ilijah Colina 3) Linden McCorrister
The Cougars (19-26-4-4) picked up their first win in Brandon since October 12th, 2007; it was their second straight win over the Wheat Kings dating back to last season. Isaiah DiLaura has now stopped 63 of the last 68 shots he’s faced, going back to his start last Saturday versus Saskatoon. Jared Bethune finished with a game-high three points.
Prince George wraps up their six-game East Division road trip Saturday night in Moose Jaw against the Warriors; puck drop is 5 pm PT. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The GOAT, or watch online via WHL Live.
-Prince George Cougars