The Cougars shook of an early Red Deer Rebels goal and scored four unanswered, cruising to a 4-1 win Saturday night at the Enmax Centrium. It was the Cougars first win in Red Deer since November 2015.
Josh Maser, Jackson Leppard, Aaron Boyd and Brogan O’Brien scored for Prince George, and Tavin Grant stopped 34 of 35 shots for his third win. Boyd was named the game’s first star with a goal and an assist, and Grant took home second star honours.
Red Deer went out ahead early, three-minutes in, as Mason McMaster scored on a great individual effort. As he was falling forward, McMaster managed to fling a backhand on net that snuck through Grant’s legs, after the Prince George goalie tried in vain to poke-check the Red Deer forward.
The Cougars rebound nicely and tied the game midway through the first courtesy of Maser. Ryan Schoettler made a nice play at the blue-line to keep the puck onside, before firing it back down at the net. Maser was parked out front and with his back to the net, he shoveled in a rebound on his backhand at 13:31.
Grant made an excellent save towards the end of the period to preserve the tie, lounging to his left and getting his pad on a backdoor play to Brandon Hagel. That save would pay dividends in the second period.
Prince George went ahead midway through the middle frame, as Jackson Leppard scored his second in as many games. Jared Bethune moved out of the corner after shaking off a defender and tried to cut to the net but had the puck poked off his stick. However, it bounced right to Leppard and he quickly roofed it over the goalie’s shoulder at 9:18.
Boyd added an insurance marker late in the second, as he flew down the wing and scored from the face-off circle. Kody McDonald chipped the puck from the wall to Boyd, who was in full flight, and he fired a dart up and over the goalie’s shoulder at 18:20; Boyd scoring in back-to-back games.
The Cougars put the game out of reach early in the third period, when Brogan O’Brien scored just 40-seconds into the frame to make it 4-1. O’Brien disrupted a breakout by the Rebels, knocking down a cross-ice pass, and the play finished with Boyd feeding him a pass out front from behind the net.
Final Score: 4-1 Cougars
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-2 Rebels 0-1
Three Stars: 1) Aaron Boyd 2) Tavin Grant 3) Mason McMaster
Prince George (4-5-2-1) is now 3-1-0-1 on the road and have seven out of a possible 10 points from their first five road games. Last year the Rebels won all three meetings against the Cougars, including two in Red Deer.
At the WHL Cup, Team BC, coached by Cougars Associate Coach Steve O’Rourke, advanced to the Final against Team Alberta, after beating Saskatchewan 7-0 Saturday in semi-final action. Cougars’ prospect Tyson Phare is on BC’s roster.
The Cougars wrap up their Alberta road trip Sunday afternoon against the Calgary Hitmen (3-7-1-0) at the Saddledome; face-off is 3 pm PT. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The Goat, or they can watch online at www.whl.ca
-Prince George Cougars