Taylor Gauthier had a himself a career night Wednesday. The 16-year-old Prince George Cougars’ goaltender made a season-high 56-saves in the Cougars 4-1 setback to the Regina Pats.
Jesse Gabrielle, Sam Steel, Matt Bradley and Carter Hebig scored for the Pats, but it was Gauthier’s performance that stood out. Gauthier stopped 23 shots in the first period, another 23 shots in the second and 10 for good measure in the third period.
Jared Bethune scored the Cougars’ only goal, on short-handed breakaway, in the first period.
The Pats did strike early and, on the power-play, as it was Gabrielle scoring on his former team. Nick Henry dished the puck from the side of the net back out front to Gabrielle who fired it past Gauthier at 1:20.
Gauthier stood tall the rest of frame, including making a pair of key stops on Henry and Cam Hebig. First, he somehow managed to dart his pad out on Henry’s rebound attempt at the top of the crease, then he spread out in the splits and robbed Hebig who tried to drive the goal from the right-wing.
Bethune tied it up with the Cougars down a man. During a Pats’ power-play, Bethune stole the puck from Cale Fleury at the Cougars blue-line and turned up ice. Once in the clear, he quickly went to his backhand and roofed the puck up and over a beaten Max Paddock at 7:57; Bethune tying it 1-1 with his 17th.
Sam Steel broke the tie early in the second, blasting a one-timer past Gauthier from right out front at 4:15. Off a face-off, Robbie Holmes found the puck in the corner and dished it back out to Steel, who quickly snapped the puck past Gauthier on the blocker-side to make it 2-1.
Not long after the Pats were handed a five-minute power-play, after Vladislav Mikhalchuk was called for a Checking to the Head penalty. Prince George did a great job in killing-off the extended power-play but seconds after it expired, the Pats made it 3-1.
Moments after the five-minute major elapsed, Matt Bradley and Emile Oksanen connected for a give-and-go down-low. Bradley took the return pass from Oksanen from off the goal-line and hammered the one-timer upstairs at 11:17; six-seconds after the penalty ended.
Down 3-1 at the start of the third period, the Cougars had a chance to get back within a goal on the power-play. However, the Pats capitalized on a turnover and skated back the other way on an odd-man rush. Cam Hebig took a cross-ice pass from Sam Steel and fired it past a sprawled Gauthier, just 95-seconds into the third.
FINAL SCORE: 4-1 Pats
Shots: 60-30 Pats
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-8 Pats 1-4
Three Stars: 1) Matt Bradley 2) Taylor Gauthier 3) Emile Oksanen
The Cougars (18-26-4-4) are now winless in their last four but look to end the streak Friday, February 2nd, when they pay the Brandon Wheat Kings a visit; face-off is 5:30 pm PT. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The Goat, or they can watch online, via WHL Live.
-Prince George Cougars