The Prince George Cougars likely left XFINITY Arena Friday with a feeling of déjà vu, as they found themselves on the wrong end of more late game heroics, this time by the Everett Silvertips in their 3-1 win over the Cougars.
After the Winterhawks stung the Cougars with a game winning goal inside the final minute of the third period on Wednesday, Everett’s Patrick Bajkov broke a 1-1 deadlock Friday, with his go-ahead goal with just 82-seconds left in regulation.
Matt Fonteyne set up the game-winner on an odd-man rush, taking a dross pass from Connor Dewar, before firing a pass across to Bajkov to the far side, who went post and in from the face-off circle.
Josh Maser scored for the Cougars, late in the second to tie the game 1-1 through 40-minutes, despite the Cougars being short-handed six times in the first two periods, and having to kill-off three separate five-on-three power-plays.
The penalty-kill was excellent despite the loss, as the Cougars went eight-for-eight on the PK and in total, killed-off four two-man advantages.
Tavin Grant had another standout performance in goal, as he turned aside all but two of the 49 shots that were fired his way; he was at his best on the Cougars penalty-kill.
Everett opened the scoring early, less than four-minutes in, as Orrin Centazzo had the puck come right to him in from of the Cougars net. Joel Lakusta’s pass across to Jack Sander hit the defenceman’s skate and jetted right back into the middle, where Centazzo quickly spun and fired a low shot past the pad of Grant at 3:48.
The Silvertips held onto that lead, despite several power-play opportunities through the first two periods.
Liam Ryan, trying to provide a spark for his team, dropped the gloves with Everett’s Gianni Fairbrother midway through the middle stanza. Both combatants lost their helmets early and both threw several right hands before the Linesmen stepped in. That spirited bout seemed to provide a shot in the arm for Prince George.
Less than two-minutes after Ryan’s tussle, it was the Cougars equalizing after some good fore-check pressure deep in the Everett end. Ethan O’Rourke dug the puck out of skates behind the Everett net and spotted a wide-open Maser in front, who wasted no time firing a snap-shot through Carter Hart’s legs at 13:33; Maser bagging his sixth goal of the year.
The Cougars had a great opportunity to get their first lead of the game early in the third period. Josh Curtis and Brogan O’Brien played give-and-go down the right-wing, before Curtis dropped the puck to O’Brien in the face-off circle. The 20-year-old neatly dragged the puck around one defender but his quick wrist-shot hit the fat part of the cross-bar over Hart’s shoulder and stayed out.
Overtime was looming at XFINITY Arena but Everett’s top-line had something to say with less than 90-seconds left. Connor Dewar came down the wing and as he crossed the blue-line he left the puck for Matt Fonteyne, who then quickly spotted Patrick Bajkov streaking down the far side. Fonteyne went cross-ice to Bajkov who managed to get his shot just on the inside of the post past Grant on his glove-side. The game-winner coming with just 1:22 left on the clock.
Prince George did have time to pull Grant for the extra attacker but a miscue at the Everett blue-line allowed Dewar to win a footrace for a loose puck and he skated it down into the empty-net with just 28-seconds left.
FINAL: 3-1 Everett
Shots: 50-24 Everett
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-2 Everett 0-8
Three Stars: 1) Tavin Grant 2) Orrin Centazzo 3) Connor Dewar
The Cougars (5-8-2-2) return to Prince George to face the Silvertips (7-9-1-0) for a weekend doubleheader November 10th & 11th at the CN Centre. November 10th is “Student Night,” as students at College of New Caledonia and UNBC can purchase game tickets for just $15. November 11th is “Heroes Night,” as the Cougars are honouring first responders, veterans, active military members and more. Tickets for both games are available at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca