It took seven goals, sixty-five minutes and then a shootout, but the Prince George Cougars are back in the win column, after their 7-6 win over the Kamloops Blazers Saturday.
Ethan Browne sealed the win in the third-round of the shootout, as the Cougars snapped their four-game losing streak. Josh Maser and Vladislav Mikhalchuk
each scored twice, and Jared Bethune and Josh Curtis added singles. Tavin Grant picked up the win, in his first start in 18-days, kicking-out 39 of 45 shots.
Kamloops got goals from six different players in the loss, which extended their winless streak to four-games. Dylan Ferguson started for the Blazers but was replaced by Max Palaga late in the second, after surrendering five goals on 24 shots.
It was a back-and-forth, and at times wide open game, as the two teams combined for 12 goals through regulation and the game featured six lead changes.
The Blazers wasted little time getting on the scoresheet, as Nick Chyzowski scored seconds after the puck dropped. On the opening shift, Chyzowski found the puck behind the Cougars net, and came out front and squeezed his shot past Grant, just 15-seconds in.
Mikhalchuk equalized, just past the seven-minute mark, as he walked over the blue-line and fired a laser over Ferguson’s glove; Mikhalchuk scoring his 11th at 7:08.
The Cougars then grabbed their first of three leads three-minutes after Mikhalchuk’s goal. On their second power-play, Brogan O’Brien fired a one-touch pass over to Maser in the crease, and he smacked in his 24th at 10:22.
Kamloops came back to tie it 2-2, not even two-minutes later, as Justin Sigrist pounced on a rebound in the Cougars’ crease. Orrin Centazzo had his shot kick-off Grant’s pad and over to Sigrist who put in the rebound at 11:55.
The Blazers then took their second lead of the game, 14-minutes into the first period. On the power-play, Jack Sheppard capitalized on another rebound, putting the puck through Tavin Grant’s legs from the top of the crease at 14:03, making it 3-2.
Prince George tied it early in the second period, as Josh Maser made it 3-3 just before the two-minute mark. Josh Curtis fired a sharp-angled shot that Dylan Ferguson couldn’t nab, and Maser jammed it in over the goal-line as Ferguson reached back in vein; Maser scoring his team-best 25.
The Cougars regained the lead, during a four-on-four sequence. Ryan Schoettler busted out of his own zone and carried the puck down the middle, before dishing it off to Curtis on the right-wing. Curtis moved into the right-circle and fired it off the post and in at 1:57; his ninth of the season making it 4-3.
That lead didn’t last long, as 28-seconds after Curtis scored, the Blazers’ Jermaine Loewen tied it at four. With the teams still playing four-on-four, Brady Reagan threw the puck to the crease from the wing, and Loewen shrugged off a defender, before tapping in the centering pass.
The lead changed hands, again, as the Blazers went back up a goal midway through the second, as Quinn Benjafield made it 5-4 for Kamloops. On a Blazers power-play, Benjafield deflected Joe Gatenby’s shot past Grant at 12:05.
The visitors rallied late in the middle frame, scoring twice inside the two-minutes and change. First, Vladislav Mikhalchuk got his second of the game, surprising Ferguson with a shot from the wall that he snuck in on the short-side at 17:49. The tying goal chased Ferguson from the net, as he was replaced by Max Palaga after Mikhalchuk tied it. The Cougars gave Palaga a rued welcome.
With just seven-seconds left in the second period, Prince George retook the lead, as it was Jared Bethune scoring a power-play goal. Bethune tried to throw a cross-ice pass, but it ended up going off the inside of the defenders’ skate and past Palaga at 19:53 to make it 6-5; Bethune credited with his 19th of the season.
Kamloops came back early in the third period, as Tylor Ludwar scored his first career goal to tie it 6-6. Just 2:06 into the third, Sean Strange’s point-shot went off the skate Ludwar at the side of net and underneath the pads of Grant.
In overtime, both teams had great chances to end it and it came on the same sequence. First, Joe Gatenby hit the post on an odd-man rush, and Nick Chyzowski was unable to jam the rebound in from the crease. Then, the Cougars grabbed the puck and Ilijah Colina was sprung on the breakaway, but he skied his wrist-shot off the glass behind the net.
In the shootout, the both teams missed in the first round. Vladislav Mikhalchuk answered Justin Sigrist’s goal in the second round with a great deke, setting up Ethan Browne in the third and final round. After Connor Zary missed for Kamloops, Browne came in and tucked the puck around Palaga to seal the win.
FINAL SCORE: 7-6 Cougars
Shots: 45-31 Blazers
Power-Plays: Cougars 2/5 Blazers 2/3
Three Stars: 1) Ethan Browne 2) Montana Onyebuchi 3) Josh Maser
Saturday was the Cougars third win in four games in Kamloops this season. Their seven goals match a season-high, as they scored seven twice before this season. Mikhalchuk’s two goals were his first since January 13th, against Tri-City.
The Cougars continue their road trip Tuesday in Kelowna against the Rockets. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The GOAT, or they can watch on WHL Live.