For a fourth consecutive game the Cougars found themselves trailing their opponent heading into the third period. But for a fourth straight game the Cougars were able to rise to the occasion in the third period and complete a comeback victory. Jansen Harkins and Kody McDonald each had a goal and an assist and Brad Morrison scored the go-ahead goal at 11:45 of the third period to lift the Cougars to a 4-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. Henri Jokiharu responded with two assists for Portland who fall to 22-20-1-0 on the season. The Cougars record now sits at a league best 32-12-2-0.
A very back-and-forth first period yielded 33 combined shots and a 1-1 tie. Jansen Harkins got the Cougars on the board with his 13th of the season when he crashed the net and knocked home a loose puck past Portland starter Shane Farkas, who made his first ever WHL start and finished with an impressive 34 saves on 38 shots faced.
Ryan Hughes got Portland back on even terms when he knocked home a rebound out of mid-air past Cougars starter Ty Edmonds for his 17th of the season.
Period two belonged to the Winterhawks who outshot the Cougars 11-6 and outscored them 2-0. Skyler McKenzie moved Portland ahead by a goal with a shorthanded marker that came on a breakaway at the 4:03 mark of the middle period. Then 2:34 later Alex Overhardt parked himself in front of the Cougars net and deflected home a Henri Jokiharu point shot past Edmonds for his seventh of the season. Overhardt’s marker came via the power play.
22 seconds into the third period though the Cougars started their comeback bid. Jansen Harkins won a puck battle at the Portland line, raced wide on the defender and the goaltender before centering a pass to the wide open Radovan Bondra in front. Bondra then placed a backhand shot into the empty net for his 22nd of the season and third in a Cougars uniform.
Kody McDonald then moved the Cougars back to even terms when he forced a turnover in front of the Portland net and was able to wire a quick shot past Farkas for his 10th.
Brad Morrison then completed the Cougars comeback two minutes and 30 seconds later when he pounced on a Kody McDonald rebound and scooped a backhander over the pad of Farkas and home for his 18th. Shane Collins added an assist on the Morrison goal and finished the game +2.
Between the pipes Ty Edmonds made 33 saves for the Cougars to earn his 25th win of the season. He’s now just two victories shy of becoming the all-time franchise leader in wins for a Cougars goaltender.
Special teams went the way of the Winterhawks who went one-for-two on the power play while the Cougars went zero-for-three.
With the victory the Cougars’ division lead remains at nine points as Kamloops were winners at home against Moose Jaw, but with Everett’s loss to Seattle the Cougars now hold a two point lead for first overall in the Western Conference standings. The Cougars and Winterhawks will square off again tomorrow at 7 PM at CN Centre.
-Prince George Cougars