DiLaura kicked out 51 of 53 shots fired his way, including 39-saves over the final two periods, as he won for the third time this season. Max Kryski scored two first period goals, and Austin Crossley and Rhett Rhinehart also found the back of the net.
It was the Cougars fourth win in five games in Kamloops, as the two teams wrap up the season series, and 2017-18 season tomorrow in Prince George.
The Cougars were winless in their last six heading into Friday’s contest and went down early in the first period but quickly bounced back, scoring three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Jermaine Loewen opened the scoring for the Blazers, scoring his seventh goal against the Cougars on the power-play at 3:49. Quinn Benjafield darted down the right-wing and from the goal-line, fired a cross-ice pass to Loewen who shoveled the puck underneath DiLaura’s pad.
The Cougars tied in on their first power-play of the game, as Max Kryski was credited with his seventh at 7:43. Cole Moberg had his point-shot go off of Aaron Boyd’s stick, then off Kryski’s skate, before bouncing in off of Dylan Ferguson’s arm.
Prince George was off and running after that, as they scored twice more in the first period. Rhett Rhinehart made it 2-1 midway through the first. During a four-on-four sequence, Jared Bethune found Rhinehart pinching in from the blue-line, and he went post-and-in on the blocker-side at 11:28. Rhinehart scoring his third from the right-wing face-off circle.
Kryski picked up his second of the period with less than five-minutes left. The Cougars went ahead 3-1 after Ilijah Colina found an open Kryski at the top of the crease, who put the puck between the legs of Ferguson at 14:45.
The Cougars were an opportunistic bunch, as they ended up scoring three times on just eight shots in the first period.
Austin Crossley added to the Cougars lead in the second, going cross-bar down near the halfway mark. The Cougars quickly moved up ice and it was Brogan O’Brien swinging a rink-wide pass to the trailer Crossley, who wired a wrist-shot over Ferguson’s glove at 9:07.
The Blazers pressed in the second period, firing 18-shots at DiLaura but he stopped them all, including getting some help from the posts. One of his best saves came off of Brodi Stuart, as he reached back and swept the puck of the goal-line with his glove.
Trailing 4-1 in the third, Kamloops made another push, firing 22 shots at the Cougars net. They finally broke through midway through the third period, when Connor Zary cashed in on his own rebound. Zary cut to the net from the right-wing corner and had his first attempt stopped but the puck came right back to him off of DiLaura, and he forced his rebound in on the far-side at 10:50; the Cougar lead down to 4-2 with half a period left.
Kamloops did get back-to-back power-plays inside the final eight and a half minutes, but DiLaura and the penalty-kill stood tall. The Blazers even had a six-on-four for nearly two full minutes, after pulling their goalie but nothing came to fruition.
The Blazers had the game’s last four power-plays but it was the Cougars’ penalty-kill rebuffing each one of those attempts.
FINAL SCORE: 4-2 Cougars
Shots: 53-29 Blazers
Power-Plays: Cougars 1-1 Blazers 1-5
Three Stars (Radio): 1) Isaiah DiLaura 2) Max Kryski 3) Brogan O’Brien
Prince George (24-38-5-4) improves to 4-5-0-0 against the Blazers this season and end their road portion of their season with a 11-20-2-3 record; they snapped a six-game road losing streak too. If you include his relief appearance on March 7th, DiLaura has now stopped 72 of the last 75 shots he’s faced.
The Cougars and Blazers conclude the 2017-18 WHL regular season tomorrow at the CN Centre, on Fan Appreciation Night, brought to you by Ridgeline Roofing. Tickets are available at the Tickets North box.
-Prince George Cougars