Saturday night at the CN Centre in front of 4300-plus the Prince George Cougars earned a hard-fought 4-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. A night removed from a disappointing 2-1 set-back the Cougars responded with three first period goals and a complete 60-minute effort en route to their 28th victory of the season. Colby McAuley and Jared Bethune had two points each for the Cougars while Nikita Popugaev buried his first in a Cougars uniform. Ty Edmonds made 22 saves on 23 shots to earn his 22nd victory of the season.
Less than a minute into the game the Royals were assessed a penalty but a rare miscue with the Cougars net empty resulted in an early 1-0 lead for Victoria. With Ty Edmonds at the bench and an extra attacker on the ice for Prince George, Jansen Harkins attempted to pass the puck from the right wing wall back to the waiting Cougars defenceman. Regrettably there was no defenceman to be found and the puck glided all the way back into the Cougars zone and into the net for an own goal that was eventually credited to Carter Folk.
Fittingly it was Harkins who kick-started the Cougars comeback at the 5:42 mark of the first when he deflected home a Sam Ruopp point shot past Royals starter Griffen Outhouse for his 10th of the season. Then at 10:01 Tate Olson blasted home his fourth of the season off a one-timer from the right point on a power play to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
Richard Matvichuk’s crew kept coming. At 15:30 Colby McAuley parked himself in front of the Victoria goal and knocked home a Kody McDonald pass from in close for his 14th an a 3-1 Cougars lead. The shots in the first were 20-5 for Prince George who took that 3-1 lead into the break.
Early in the second newcomer Nikita Popugaev put the CN Centre crowd into a frenzy when he knocked home his own rebound from on close at the 1:28 mark to make the game 4-1. Popugaev’s first goal as a Cougar and 23rd of the season was assisted by both Jesse Gabrielle and Brendan Guhle.
Through two periods the score was 4-1 Prince George and the shots were 31-13 favoring the home side.
Tyler Soy would add a power play marker for Victoria at the 10:21 mark of the final period to move the Royals within two but that’s as close as they’d come. Ty Edmonds made some clutch saves late in the game and the Cougars were able to hold on to earn their first victory of 2017, their 14th victory at home this season and their 28th victory overall.
Victoria finished the night one-for-four on the power play while the Cougars power play went one-for-five. The final shots were 42-23 for the Cougars.
Next up: A four-game road trip that sees the Cougars roll through Alberta starting Tuesday, January 10th in Red Deer.
- Congratulations to 21-year-old Josh Goyer who won a 2016 Nissan Versa tonight at the game!
- The next Cougars home game takes place Tuesday, January 17th at home against the Portland Winterhawks.
- The WHL Trade Deadline is scheduled for 2:00 PM local time on Tuesday, January 10th.
– Prince George Cougars