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Blazers score late to eke out win over Cougars

The Kamloops Blazers scored twice inside the final six-minutes of the third period, in their 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Prince George Cougars, Friday at the CN Centre.

BOXSCORE

Brodi Stuart and Justin Sigrist scored less than two-minutes apart late in the third to break a 3-3 tie. Luc Smith led the way for the Blazers, scoring twice and Tylor Ludwar potted a power-play goal in the second period

Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Kody McDonald scored inside the first 10-minutes of the first period to stake the Cougars out to a 2-0 lead. After Kamloops tied it in the second, Ethan O’Rourke scored early in the third to put the Cougars back ahead, before the Blazers mounted their comeback.

Tavin Grant started for Prince George, stopping 20 of 22 shots in two periods of work. Isaiah DiLaura was saddled with the loss, turning aside six of nine shots in the third period.

Max Palaga played the first half of the game for Kamloops, yielding two goals on 12 shots, before giving way to Kyle Dumba who stopped 14 of 15 in 30-minutes of work.

It was a terrific start for the Cougars, as Mikhalchuk scored 58-seconds in, firing a shot underneath the arm of Palaga from the right-wing circle. O’Rourke made a great play on the boards to knock down a clearing attempt, before Mikhalchuk found the loose puck in the circle.

McDonald, back from his stint at Winnipeg Jets Camp, showed not only great speed but a great release on the Cougars’ second goal. Jared Bethune fed a streaking McDonald down the right-wing and he wired a shot over Palaga’s shoulder from the top of the circle at 9:31.

Kamloops started to turn it around in the middle frame, scoring twice in 54-seconds to quickly erase a 2-0 deficit. First, it was Tylor Ludwar scoring on the power-play, hammering a one-timer from the slot after a scramble in front of the PG net at 4:35. Then on the next shift, right off a face-off, Devan Harrison had his point-shot tipped in by Luc Smith.

The Cougars had a great chance to go back ahead late in the second on a power-play. After an extended sequence in the Kamloops end, the puck hopped out to McDonald in the slot with the goalie down and out. However, McDonald’s heavy shot was knocked down by a diving Blazers’ defender in front of the net.

PG did restore their lead minutes into the third period, as O’Rourke followed the puck to the net. Ryan Schoettler had his point-shot kick right back out of the goalie’s pad, and right to O’Rourke who put it in at 4:46. The celebration was quickly muted.

On the next shift, Luc Smith knocked down a Cougars’ clearing attempt along the glass and walked into the slot, before hammering a shot past the shoulder of DiLaura at 5:25.

Kamloops rode the momentum of that goal and grabbed their first lead late, as Brodi Stuart put the visitors ahead with just over six-minutes left. On another Blazers power-play, Stuart walked off the wall and cut in front of DiLaura’s net and lifted the puck over the goalie’s pad; the Blazers nabbing their first lead at 14:08. The goal was officially credited to Quinn Benjafield.

Just Sigrist added the insurance marker not long after, scoring on a rebound right in the crease. Nic Holowko led the attack, barging down the right-wing before cutting to the net. Holowko was stopped but Sigrist stuffed in the rebound at 15:59 to make it 5-3.

Final Score: 5-3 Blazers

Shots: 31-27 Blazers

Power-Plays: PG 0-3 Blazers 2-5

Three Stars: 1) Luc Smith 2) Kody McDonald 3) Vladislav Mikhalchuk

The Cougars finish their six-game pre-season schedule with a 3-3-0-0 record. Up next is their CIBC Opening Weekend against the Spokane Chiefs, starting on September 22.

-Prince George Cougars

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