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Newest Cougars helps with win over Tigers

Heading into Wednesday night the Medicine Hat Tigers were a perfect 20-0 when leading after two periods.

But that is no longer the case thanks to some third period heroics from the Prince George Cougars. Newly acquired forward Radovan Bondra scored 37 seconds into the third to tie the game at three, then Jared Bethune broke the tie with a power play goal at 7:06 of the third to lift the Cougars to a 4-3 road victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. Radovan Bondra and Jesse Gabrielle paced the Cougars offence with a goal and an assist apiece while Ty Edmonds made 29 saves on 32 shots faced to earn his 23 victory of the season. Zach Fischer led the Tigers attack with a goal and an assist in response.

 A day removed from a rough outing against the Red Deer Rebels it was important for the Cougars to get off to a fast start and they did so just 5:58 into the first when captain Sam Ruopp jumped up in the rush, took a Jesse Gabrielle pass in the slot and wired home his third of the season up high over the left shoulder of Tigers starter Nick Schneider. It marked the first time in 2017 that the Cougars have opened the scoring in one of their games.

Medicine Hat responded with an equalizer at 10:05 of the opening period when Steven Owre scooped a loose puck under the right pad of Cougars starter Ty Edmonds for his 15th of the season. The first period ended with the score tied 1-1 and the Cougars holding a slight 8-7 lead in shots.

Zach Fischer moved the Tigers ahead 2-1 on a power play goal at the 8:26 mark of the second. He crashed the net and knocked the puck home that bounced back to him off the left post. The goal went to review but the replay showed without any debate that Fischer’s shot crossed the line.

Exactly one minute later the Cougars found an answer when Jesse Gabrielle took a pass from Nikita Popugaev, raced across the Medicine Hat blueline and roofed a shot home from the high slot for his 20th goal of the season. That goal helped him snap a nine game goal-scoring drought.

Back came the Tigers though at the 11:50 mark when WHL assists leader Mason Shaw found Matt Bradley on a cross ice pass from the right wing circle. Bradley one-timed home Shaw’s pass for his 19th of the season, once again lifting the home team ahead. They’d take that 3-2 lead into the second intermission.

Prior to Wednesday the Cougars were 1-10 when trailing after 40 minutes, but 37 seconds into the final period the Cougars got back on even terms when Radovan Bondra, in his first game in a Cougars uniform knocked home a Brendan Guhle rebound from the left side of the net. It was the 20th of the season for the Chicago Blackhawks prospect.

After killing off an early Tigers power play in the third period the Cougars were awarded their fifth power play of the game. Previously the Cougars were zero-for-four in the game and one-for-their-last 22 chances overall, but that changed when Jared Bethune snuck into the slot, grabbed a pass from Radovan Bondra and wired home a quick shot past the glove of Nick Schneider for his 12thof the season. Bethune’s power play marker would stand as the game winner as the Cougars and Ty Edmonds were able to withstand a late push from the Tigers in the final minutes to secure their 29th victory of the season and their 15th victory away from home this season, matching their road victory totals from a season ago. For Ty Edmonds it was his 92nd victory of the season moving him to within four wins of the all-time franchise record.

Medicine Hat outshot the Cougars 32-31 and each team ended the game with a power play goal. The Cougars went one-for-five while the Tigers ended up one-for-four. The victory for the Cougars evened their season series with the Tigers at 1-1 and also moved their record on the road trip to 1-1.

Next up for the Cougars: A battle with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday at the Enmax Centre.

-Prince George Cougars

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