The Prince George Cougars weren’t going to allow Sunday to repeat itself once again. Max Kryski scored his first WHL late in the third period, breaking a 4-4 tie, as the Cougars held off the Victoria Royals for a 5-4 win at the CN Centre Tuesday.
Just like they did on Sunday, the Royals rallied for another four goals in the third period Tuesday, but this time it was the Cougars manufacturing a game-winner with less than six-minutes left. Kryski skated in over the Royals’ blue-line and squeezed a shot through the pads of Dean McNabb.
It was a rollercoaster of a third period, as the Cougars led 3-0 going into the final frame, before Victoria mounted another dramatic comeback. Midway through the third, the two teams combined for five goals just over two and a half minutes. The Royals scoring three in less than two-minutes to erase a 4-1 deficit at one point.
Lost in the shuffle was Ryan Schoettler’s two-goal night, and Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Cole Moberg also scored for the Cougars, who took three out of a possible four points against the top team in the BC Division. Tavin Grant was excellent on Tuesday, as he stopped 26 shots through two periods and finished with 41 saves.
Igor Martynov, Dino Kambeitz, Tyler Soy and Kade Oliver scored for the Royals. Rookie Dean McNabb, who made his first start since November 14th, stopped 20 of 25 shots in the Victoria net.
Prince George got out to a fast start, as Mikhalchuk and Schoettler scored just 47-seconds apart in the first period. Mikhalchuk opened the scoring midway through the frame, on a wraparound, getting the puck between the post and McNabb’s pad, just as the Royals were being called for a penalty. Then, on the ensuing power-play, Schoettler fired a wrist-shot from the blue-line that beat McNabb over his glove at 11:48; Schoettler scoring his first goal since late October.
The Cougars led 2-0 after the first but Tavin Grant had to be very sharp at the other end, as he made 12 saves in the first period. He also got some help from the post, as Jared Freadrich wired his shot off the iron in the final seconds of the opening frame.
In the second, Schoettler added to the Cougars lead, scoring a near identical goal to his first. Jared Bethune dug the puck out of the corner and fed Schoettler at the blue-line, who quickly moved to the middle and fired over McNabb’s blocker, making it 3-0 seven-minutes in.
Grant was sharp in the second, like he was in the first, stopping another 14-shots. Three of his best saves came against Tyler Soy. He stopped Soy right out front in the slot, then he made two pad saves as Soy rushed the goal from the right-wing.
Newly signed Nic Holowko left his mark on the second period and possibly on Jared Freadrich. After Holowko flattened Mitchell Prowse with an open ice hit, he got into a spirited bout with Freadrich. Holowko ended up with an assist and three shots on goal in his Cougars debut.
In the third, the Royal broke through, as Martynov got the visitors on the scoreboard four-minutes in. Grant stopped the point shot but the puck jumped off his pad and to Martynov who jammed it in.
The Cougars had a near immediate response, as Cole Moberg put them up 4-1, scoring 19 seconds after the Victoria goal. The Cougars came down on a three-on-one, and Bethune fed it over to Moberg, who went upstairs for his second of the season. The Royals didn’t fold and came right back.
Just 30-seconds after Moberg scored, Dino Kambeitz fired a wicked backhand up and under the cross-bar from the slot at 5:04, cutting the Cougars lead back down to two. Then, 66-seconds after that goal, Tyler Soy scored on a Royals’ power-play to make it 4-3. The improbable rally was capped off not a minute later, as Kade Oliver got credit for the tying goal.
Nathan Prowse’s point-shot went off of the tip of Grant’s glove and straight up in the air, before bouncing in behind him, but not before Oliver cold whack it across the goal-line at 6:54.
Grant shook off the freak bounce and made a timely save off of Soy on another Royals’ power-play. Tied 4-4, Grant slid across and jetted out his leg to stop Soy’s backdoor play. That save loomed large, as the Cougars went ahead late on Kryski’s first career goal.
Final Score: 5-4 Cougars
Shots: 45-25 Royals
Power-Plays: Cougars 1-4 Royals 1-8
Three Stars: 1) Ryan Schoettler 2) Tyler Soy 3) Max Kryski
Prince George (12-14-3-2) is now tied on points with Kamloops for fourth in the BC Division. They’re also now just one point back of the Seattle Thunderbirds for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. 16-year-old Cole Beamin made his WHL debut on the Cougars’ blue-line and was an even rating in the win.
The Cougars are in Seattle on Friday night. It’s a three-game weekend before the Christmas break, as the Cougars are in Everett Saturday and Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. All three games can be heard on 94.3 The GOAT, or fans can watch online via WHL Live.
-Prince George Cougars