It was an eventful first period, as the two teams combined for six goals inside the first 15-minutes, as the two teams were tied 3-3 after the opening frame.
Lakusta scored the Cougars’ first goal since the third period on December 15, snapping a two-game goalless streak, as his shot from the blue-line went post-and-in behind Griffen Outhouse four-minutes into the game.
Victoria did answer on the power-play when Noah Gregor, from his knees, scoring on a rebound at the top of the crease at 6:31. Tavin Grant stopped Dante Hannoun but Gregor was there to backhand the rebound in behind the Cougars’ netminder.
The Cougars, in particular Holowko, had a great response, scoring just 10-seconds after Gregor to put the Cougars back ahead. On the very next shift, Holowko came out of the corner, made a move to the net, and tucked the puck underneath the pad of Outhouse on the far-side. Holowko’s fourth and first as a Cougar putting the visitors ahead 2-1.
The Royals countered, scoring twice in less than a minute in a half to go ahead 3-2. First, Tyler Soy tied it 2-2 when the puck bounced off his leg and in as he was breaking to the net. Chaz Redddekopp’s point-shot hit a stick out front before caroming off of Soy at 10:28. Just a minute and a half later, Matt Phillips gave the home side their first lead of the night, jamming the puck in between Grant and the post during a Royals power-play. Phillips scoring his team-best 25th at 12:03 putting the Royals up 3-2.
Just before the 15-minute mark, the Cougars got a power-play and made the most of it. Seven-seconds into the man-advantage, Jack Leppard redirected the puck in with his skate, after Kody McDonald’s shot knuckled over to him at the top of the crease. After a short video review, the goal stood, as Leppard was ruled to have made legal contact outside of the crease with his skate. His eighth at of the season tying it 3-3 at 14:48.
Once the dust settled, the two teams combined for six goals and 27 shots in the opening frame. It was a much different story in the second, as there was just one goal and it was the Cougars’ power-play leaving its mark.
Not even three-minutes into the second, Maser pounced on a rebound at the top of the crease and made no mistake. Outhouse had a shot spill off his chest and fall right to Maser, who quickly swatted his backhand attempt past the Victoria netminder at 2:54. Maser scoring his team-best sixth power-play goal and 14th on the season.
That was the only goal in the second, as Grant was less busy in the middle frame, stopping eight-shots. His best stop in that period was when Victoria was short-handed, as Grant got his glove up on Matt Phillips’ attempt, on a two-on-one rush late.
The Royals made a push in the third but couldn’t get any of the 14-shots past Grant. After allowing three goals on 17 shots in the first, Grant was perfect on 22-shots over the final 40-minutes.
Lakusta sealed it with an empty-net goal with just three-seconds left, picking off a wayward pass in the neutral zone, and scoring from on his own side of the redline.
Final Score: 5-3 Cougars
Shots: 39-27 Royals
Power-Plays: Cougars 2-8 Royals 2-7
Three Stars: 1) Kody McDonald 2) Dante Hannoun 3) Tavin Grant.
Lakusta’ two goals moved his season total to four, which is a new career high for the Cougars defenceman. Maser’s goal Wednesday, gives him four in three games against the Royals. The Cougars are now 2-0-1-0 against the Royals and have picked up five out of six points this season against their division rival.
The Cougars (13-17-3-2) look for the sweep Thursday, as they battle the Royals (20-14-3-0) at Save on Foods Memorial Centre at 7:05 pm. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The Goat, or they can watch, for free, on WHL Live, using the promo code: WHLGIFT2017.
-Prince George Cougars