BY FRASER RODGERS
Prince George Cougars
The Calgary boys impressed in front of an army of family and friends, but it was the home team spoiling the party, as the Calgary Hitmen knocked off the Prince George Cougars 4-1 on Friday night.
Calgary natives Taylor Gauthier and Tyson Upper made an impact. Gauthier stopped 45 shots and was named the game’s second star, and Upper scored the Cougars’ only goal, late in the first period, and was the third star.
Luke Coleman, James Malm, Mark Kastelic and Cael Zimmerman scored for Calgary, and Jack McNaughton stopped 35-shots.
Upper opened the scoring, scoring with less than two-minutes left in the opening frame, but the Hitmen responded, scoring four unanswered goals, two in each of the second and third periods, as they extended the Cougars’ winless streak to five games. The Hitmen ended a three-game skid with the victory.
Upper’s goal, at 18:52 of the first, wasn’t conventional by any means. It was an odd-man rush, as Jackson Leppard came down the right-wing and fed it to Upper, but the puck went off his leg and past the Hitmen’s Jack McNaughton. That goal was Upper’s first since October 13th.
The Cougars have split four games against the Central Division this season (2-2-0-0). The five-straight losses matches a season-high for the Cougars.
Cougars [1-0] Tyson Upper (3) from Jackson Leppard 18:52
Hitmen [1-1] Luke Coleman (14) from Josh Prokop and Dakota Krebs 13:03
Hitmen [2-1] Jame Malm (17) from Jackson Van de Leest and Dakota Krebs 19:31 GWG
Hitmen [3-1] Mark Kastelic (30) from Riley Stotts and Carson Focht 6:35 power-play
Hitmen [4-1] Cale Zimmerman (5) 19:42 empty-net
*GWG= game-winning goal
Cougars- Taylor Gauthier (loss) 45/48 57:26
Hitmen- Jack McNaughton (win) 35/36 60:00
UP NEXT:The Cougars (16-25-3-2) continue their three-game Central Division road trip, Saturday against the Red Deer Rebels (27-15-2-1); the puck drops at 6 pm PT. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The GOAT or watch on WHL Live.