Saturday night’s Teddy Bear Toss game will long be remembered for a flurry of bears and drama. With the game tied 4-4 in the final minute of the third, newly acquired defenceman Brendan Guhle scored his second goal of the game on a clear cut breakaway to give the Cougars their final lead of the game with 12.6 seconds remaining on the clock. An empty netter from the 2016 Teddy Bear goal scorer Josh Curtis sent a delirious crowd of nearly 5800 fans home happy!
After a scoreless first period, the Cougars and Thunderbirds teamed up for 10 goals in the final two periods, six of which came in the middle frame.
The 2016 Teddy Bear came at 6:02 of the second period off the stick of Josh Curtis. The 18-year-old second-year forward from Winnipeg, MB pounced on a Brogan O’Brien rebound and backhanded a shot past the pad of T-Birds starter Rylan Toth and home to give his team the 1-0 lead. This spark a stretch of six goals in a span of 9:16 between the two teams.
After the Teddy Bear cleanup the game resumed and the Cougars would soon grab another marker.
Appearing in his first game ever as a Prince George Cougar, Houston, B.C. native Josh Maser took a breakaway pass from Josh Curtis and raced in alone on Rylan Toth. Maser faked to the forehand and buried a backhander for his first ever Western Hockey League goal and a 2-0 Cougars lead.
Twelve seconds later though, the Seattle Thunderbirds got on the board. Finnish forward Sami Moilanen snuck a shot past Cougars starter Nick McBride for his second of the game, and a 2-1 score.
Brendan Guhle moved the Cougars back ahead by a 3-1 score at 14:15, but fittingly Moilanen struck again for Seattle 37 seconds later, to make the game 3-2.
Twenty-six seconds after the Moilanen goal, Brad Morrison snuck his 13th of the season past Rylan Toth to move the Cougars back ahead by a 4-2 score, which is how the second period would end. The shots were 28-20 for Seattle through two.
At 7:49 of the third Seattle captain Scott Eansor moved Seattle back within a goal when he tapped home a pass from Ethan Bear at the side of the Cougars goal.
The teams traded chances in the final minutes but neither McBride or Toth relented, and with less than two minutes left in the game the Cougars still held a one goal lead.
But with their net empty and their goaltender on the bench, Seattle was able to tie the score. Keegan Kolesar took a Scott Eansor pass and scooped it over McBride and home with 1:24 left. The defending Western Conference champs were all squared with the Cougars at 4-4.
With the teams skating four-vs-four due to a pair of penalties, the stage was set for Brendan Guhle to further his legend during the early weeks of his Cougars tenure.
Jansen Harkins started the play with a terrific pass to Guhle who used his NHL-like speed to blow past the Seattle defense. He skated in on Toth and was able to sneak a shot past the 20-year-old netminder and home for his seventh of the game, and his fifth goal in as many games for the Cougars. A week ago he was playing with the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL!
Josh Curtis’ empty-netter then sealed the deal with four seconds remaining and the Cougars managed to avoid overtime, and a third period collapse in front of their biggest crowd of the season.
The final shots were 41-30 in favor of the Thunderbirds who finished zero-for-six on the power play. Prince George went zero-for-four.
With the victory the Cougars record now sits at a B.C. Division best 22-8-2-0. They are 3-2 on their current seven game home stand.
Next up for the Cougars: A Tuesday-Wednesday home double-header with the Tri-City Americans.
– Prince George Cougars