The Cariboo Cougars didn’t show any nerves in their opening game of the Telus Cup, but didn’t turn that enthusiasm into enough offence in a 4-1 loss to the Leduc Oil Kings at CN Centre on Monday night.
The Cougars dominated long stretches of the game and outshot the Alberta champions 40-30, but were unable to convert on their chances.
Trey Thomas scored the lone goal for the Cougars.
Jarin Smallwood, Brendan Morrow, Breydon Berthold and Dillon Hamaliuk scored for Leduc.
Marcus Allen picked up where he left off in the BC Major Midget League playoffs, making a series of outstanding saves – in particular late in the first period when the Oil Kings were playing their best hockey. He made 26 saves, many of them difficult.
Easton Hesse was spectacular between the pipes for the Oil Kings, finishing with 39 saves and earning player of the game honours.
The Cougars came out flying, and throwing their weight around. Reid Perepeluk and Tyler Maser, the Cougars’ player of the game, both connected with big checks as the Cougars looked to establish home ice advantage.
However it was the Oil Kings who struck first, against the run of play. Smallwood opened the scoring at 7:58 of the opening period, firing off the rush. Allen got a piece of it, but it slithered off the post and just across the line. Kyle Walker got the assist.
Morrow doubled the visitors’ lead at 17:25 of the first, banging in a one-timer in the slot. The goal was unassisted.
The Cougars throughly dominated the middle period and were rewarded with the lone goal of the period. Daine Dubois gained the zone and split the Oil Kings’ defenders, fighting through the stick checks he found Thomas cutting in front of the net and Thomas roofed a shot in tight at 11:25.
Cariboo continued to press for the equalizer, but a series of narrow misses and Hesse stops kept the visitors ahead.
Berthold from Gerrik Ripely at 13:20 of the third and Hamaliuk into an empty net from Tyler Smithies at 19:15 closed out the scoring.