In front of over 4,800 fans, the Cougars held off a pesky Oil Kings squad to win their third in a row and in the process, sweep the weekend series over Edmonton. It’s the first time this season the Cougars have won three-straight, and the first time they’ve swept a double header at the CN Centre.
Edmonton tried to spoil the party for the packed crowd, as Tomas Soustal opened the scoring early in the first period. On a delayed penalty coming to Prince George, Soustal potted a rebound in front after Trey Fix-Wolanksy was initially stopped by Tavin Grant. The Oil Kings making it 1-0 6:41 into the opening frame.
There’s good push backs, then there’s what the Cougars did right after that Edmonton goal. Brogan O’Brien and Ethan O’Rourke scored 40-seconds apart to quickly turn the 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. First, just 53-seconds after Soustal’s goal, O’Brien bull rushed down the wing and jammed the puck underneath Boston Bilous to tie it 1-1. O’Brien scoring in his third straight game. Then, O’Rourke knocked down his teammate’s point-shot, spun to his forehand, then tucked the puck around Bilous at 8:14; O’Rourke getting his third in three games going back to Wednesday.
Once the dust settled, the two teams combined for three goals in just a minute and a half.
Prince George added to their lead early in the second and after a gift from the Oil Kings netminder. With Edmonton on the power-play, Boston Bilous came out to play the puck in the corner. However, he fanned on a pass putting the puck right on Jared Bethune’s stick, who fired into an open net from the slot just 1:48 into the frame. Bethune scoring his first goal since October 20th, which also came against Edmonton.
To their credit, the Oil Kings didn’t fold, as they rallied back, scoring twice in under three-minutes to quickly erase the two-goal deficit. 52-seconds after Bethune scored, Colton Kehler made it 3-2, outwaiting Tavin Grant out front and sliding it around the goalie for a power-play marker at 2:40.
Soon after that goal, Jackson Leppard squared off with Kobe Mohr in a spirited bout in the Oil Kings zone. Both combatants got some good shots in before Leppard scored the takedown. That scrap may have sparked the Oil Kings more so.
Edmonton completed the comeback three-minutes later, as Liam Keeler scored his first WHL goal on a slick passing play down low. Ty Gerla, from the goal-line, fired cross-ice to Keeler on the far side of the net and he tipped the puck up and over Grant six-minutes into the second.
After going down 3-1 early in the second, the Oil Kings came back to score twice to tie it up 3-3 and outshoot the Cougars 12-9 in the middle frame. Prince George appeared to save their best for last though.
Just like he did in the second, Bethune made an impact early in the third period. Aaron Boyd dug the puck loose out of the corner and found an open Bethune in the face-off circle, who then hammered a one-timer over Bilous and underneath the cross-bar two and a half minutes into the third to make it 4-3. It was Bethune’s sixth of the season, his second of the game and third in as many games against the Oil Kings.
Edmonton pushed late but Grant was there to answer the call. Arguably his best save of the night was inside the final two-minutes. The puck came out to Soustal in the middle but Grant got his glove arm to his shot, knocking it down and out of harm’s way, right from the top of the crease.
Final Score: 4-3 Cougars
Shots: 30-24 Oil Kings
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-5 Oil Kings 1-4
Three Stars: 1) Jared Bethune 2) Josh Anderson 3) Davis Koch
The Cougars (9-9-2-2) have scored a short-handed goal in three straight games dating back to Wednesday’s victory in Kamloops. Brogan O’Brien has four goals in his last three games. Bethune loves playing Edmonton, as he has scored three goals and picked up five points in three games. With the win, the Cougars improve their record to 4-0-0-2 against the Central Division.
Prince George continues their home stand Tuesday & Wednesday against the Central Division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers (13-7-0-0). Tickets for both games are available at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca
-Prince George Cougars