It’s taken the 35 games for the Cougars to arrive at 25 victories. Friday night at the ShoWare Center the Cougars earned their fourth consecutive victory – A 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Brad Morrison and Yan Khomenko each recorded a goal and an assist while Nick McBride turned aside 25 of the 27 shots fired his way to earn his sixth victory of the season and his second in as many starts against the Thunderbirds. Nolan Volcan had a goal and an assist in response for the T-Birds who are now winless in their last three.
56 seconds is all it took for the Cougars to grab a 1-0 lead. Colby McAuley skated down the left wing and fired a shot on the Seattle goal from behind the goal line. The puck took a favorable hop off Seattle starter Rylan Toth and in for McAuley’s 13th.
Seattle responded well and got out to an 8-3 edge in the shots category, but Nick McBride made some clutch saves early to keep his team ahead. Eventually though Seattle’s persistence would pay off as Scott Eansor snuck a wrap around through McBride and home for his 16th of the season.
Period one came to a close with the scored tied 1-1 and Seattle holding an 11-8 edge in the shots category.
The second period though belonged entirely to the Cougars who outscored Seattle 2-0. First it was Brad Morrison at the 6:57 mark who ripped a shot past Rylan Toth from the right circle for his 15th. Then Yan Khomenko tapped home a Brad Morrison pass from beside the goal on a power play to increase the Cougars lead to 3-1. Khomenko’s 10th of the season came at the 10:13 mark.
Tempers flared in the back half of the second as Kody McDonald dropped the gloves with Tyler Adams and Cougars captain Sam Ruopp squared off with Keegan Kolesar in two spirited scraps. The crowd erupted into a frenzy, but when all was said and done the score was 3-1 favoring the Cougars through two periods and the shots were 21-18 for the visitors.
Richard Matvichuk’s team kept the pedal down in the third period as the Cougars came out firing in the early minutes. Rylan Toth stood his ground and made some quality saves, while Nick McBride continued his mastery at the other end. He denied Keegan Kolesar on a penalty shot at 6:18 to keep his team ahead by two.
With the Seattle net empty in the waning moments of the game they’d pull back within one when Nolan Volcan deflected home an Ethan Bear point shot past McBride to make the game 3-2. But that’s as close as Seattle would come as the Cougars held off their late surge to secure their 25thvictory and their 12th road victory.
The final shots were 34-27 for the Cougars who went one-for-three on the power play while the T-Birds went zero-for-two. The Cougars have now secured victories in four straight games and became the first team in the WHL to arrive at the 25 victory mark. They’ll now put their 25-8-2-0 record on the line Saturday night in Spokane against the Chiefs, the only Western Conference team that the Cougars haven’t faced yet this season. The puck drops at 7 PM from the Spokane Arena.
-Prince George Cougars