Gauthier, Cougars outlast Rockets in shootout win

BY FRASER RODGERS

Prince George Cougars

The Prince George Cougars rang in the new year with a 2-1 shootout win over the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night at Prospera Place.

Tyson Upper scored the shootout-winner, in the third-round, as the Cougars snapped a two-game losing streak. It was the Cougars fourth win against the Rockets this season, as they improved their record to 4-1-1-0 in the season series.

Taylor Gauthier was outstanding in goal, stopping 26 of 27 shots and was named the game’s second star. Gauthier made a save-of-the-year candidate in the second period, robbing the Rockets’ Michael Farren during a Kelowna power-play.

After a scoreless first period, the Rockets opened the scoring late in the second period, on another power-play. Conner Bruggen-Cate snuck the puck past Gauthier at the post at 14:28.

The Cougars tied the game on a power-play goal of their own in the third. Jackson Leppard scored his eighth goal of the season, tipping in a Rhett Rhinehart point-shot at 10:47. The Cougars controlled the third period, outshooting the Rockets 9-1.

After a scoreless overtime frame, Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Tyson Upper scored in the three-round shootout, as the Cougars improved their record to 13-21-1-2.

15-year-old Craig Armstrong made his WHL Friday night. He had one shot on net, was 6-11 in the face-off circle and finished with an even rating. Armstrong was the Cougars’ first-round pick, 9thoverall, in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.