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Cats come back to defeat the Hitmen

Jansen Harkins

The Prince George Cougars are heading home from their Alberta road trip with six of eight possible points in their pocket. Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome the Cougars erased a 3-2 third period deficit en route to a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Hitmen.

Jansen Harkins and Radovan Bondra combined for three goals and two assists in the third period while goaltender Ty Edmonds turned aside 47 of the 51 shots fired his way in the fourth game in a span of five nights for the Cougars. Jake Bean had a goal and an assist in response for Calgary.

Richard Matvichuk’s team led the game 2-1 after the first despite being outshot 18-10. Just 2:10 into the first Josh Maser snuck into the slot and wired home a high shot over the left shoulder of Calgary goaltender Trevor Martin to make the game 1-0. Maser’s third of the season was assisted by Ryan Schoettler.

Back came Calgary at the 10:47 mark when Mark Kastelic snuck a shot from the right wing through Ty Edmonds for his eighth, but just over three minutes later the Cougars restored their lead when Brad Morrison buried his 17th off a two-on-one rush with Josh Curtis.

Period two was a different story as the Cougars surrendered two unanswered goals. The first one came at 8:10 when Jakub Stukul’s shot from the left wing circle deflected off a Cougars defenceman and past Ty Edmonds for his 14th. Then in the final minute of period on a power play Jake Bean snuck into the right circle and snuck a hot shot past the left shoulder of Edmonds for his third of the season and a 3-2 Calgary lead which they’d take into the second intermission. The shots through two periods were 32-18 for the Hitmen.

This was familiar territory for the Cougars who had gone into the third trailing their opponent in each of their previous two victories (Wednesday in Medicine Hat and Friday in Lethbridge), and once again they were able to find a way to tie the score.

At the 7:20 mark of the third off a Calgary turnover, Jansen Harkins converted off a Radovan Bondra pass from in close to secure his 11th of the season and a 3-3 tie. Then at the 12:54 mark Harkins dashed down the left wing and was able to pop his own rebound past a sprawled Martin to give the Cougars the lead back at 4-3.
Newcomer Radovan Bondra would then get in on the act as he followed up his two previous assists with his second goal in a Cougars uniform which came at 17:24 off a quick shot from the slot.

That Bondra goal would prove to be important as Beck Malenstyn was able to knock home an Andrei Grishakov rebound with 1:21 remaining in the third, but that’s as close as Calgary would come.

Calgary badly outshot the Cougars 51-29 during the game and finished one-for-five on the power play. Conversely the Cougars went zero-for-three with the extra man.

Saturday’s victory for the Cougars ensures that they remain in the top overall spot in the Western Hockey League with a record of 31-12-1-0. They’re league leading road record now sits at 17-6-1-0.

The biggest key now for the Cougars: Rest. They’ll get the day off Sunday before returning to practice Monday ahead of a Tuesday-Wednesday double-header with the Portland Winterhawks.

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