BY FRASER RODGERS
Prince George Cougars
The Prince George Cougars were three-minutes away from snapping their 14-game losing streak, but in the end had to settle for a single point in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Victoria Royals Saturday at the CN Centre.
Former Cougar Kody McDonald scored twice for the Royals, including the game-tying goal and shootout winner, as Victoria swept the weekend double-header. McDonald also was named the second star. Carson Miller, who was traded to Victoria along with McDonald from Prince Albert, also had a pair of goals.
Josh Maser scored twice for the Cougars and Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Tyson Upper also tickled the twine. Taylor Gauthier took the loss in the crease, stopping 28 of 32 shots. He was dynamite in overtime, stopping all five shots he faced.
It was an entertaining, back-and-forth game, which produced four lead changes. The Cougars led 1-0 and 4-3, and the Royals had leads of 2-1 and 3-2, before the game was decided in the skills competition.
“I thought tonight we played winning hockey,” said General Manager & Interim Head Coach Mark Lamb. “I really liked a lot of things our team did. When you’re down and you scratch and claw your way back into the game and you play physical and stick up for your teammates, that’s winning hockey.”
It was a feisty affair, as emotions boiled to the surface in the second period with four fighting majors handed out in the middle frame. Both Jackson Leppard and Josh Maser tossed the flippers with a pair of Royals.
After McDonald scored on the power-play to give the Royals a 3-2 lead 51-seconds into the third, the Cougars did claw back. First, it was Vladislav Mikhalchuk tying the game seven-minutes into the frame. Mikhalchuk scored to tie it 3-3 after potting a rebound at the side of the net. Then, Upper gave the Cougars their second lead of the night, cashing in on another rebound 12 and a half minutes into the third. However, the Royals and McDonald answered back.
The former Cougar tied the game with just 2:57 left on the clock, blistering a one-timer from the left-wing face-off circle. McDonald was all over the scoresheet Saturday, as missed half the second period after being slapped with a 10-minute misconduct.
Josh Maser had a big night, as the Cougars’ power forward scored twice in the setback. Maser scored his 21stof the season not even two-minutes into the game. The Houston, B.C. product rushed down the wing and beat Outhouse from the face-off circle. He notched his 22nd of the season and second of the night in the second period, scoring on the power-play, after redirecting Ethan Browne’s pass at the top of the crease.
“We’re taking the right steps and for me, seeing the direction we’re heading in, it’s all positive,” commented Lamb. “We’re playing a lot smarter and we’re playing a lot grittier and our team is built that way and we’re going to keep pushing for it. It’s a challenging process but it’s going to show here soon.”
In the three-round shootout, Mikhalchuk was the only Cougars’ shooter to beat Outhouse. Ethan Browne and Upper were stopped.
Cougars[1-0] Josh Maser (21) from Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Jack Sander 1:53
Royals [1-1] Carson Miller (11) from D-Jay Jerome. 7:16
Royals [2-1] Carson Miller (12) from D-Jay Jerome and Scott Walford 2:13
Cougars [2-2] Josh Maser (22) from Ethan Browne and Cole Moberg 10:25
Royals [3-2] Kody McDonald (14) from Scott Walford and Igor Martynov 0:51
Cougars [3-3] Vladislav Mikhalchuk (21) from Austin Crossley and Cole Moberg 7:02
Cougars [4-3] Tyson Upper (4) from Jackson Leppard and Josh Curtis 12:27
Royals [4-4] Kody McDonald (15) from Igor Martynov and Jameson Murray 17:03
Cougars- Taylor Gauthier (Loss) 27/3165:00
Royals- Griffen Outhouse (win) 32/33 65:00
UP NEXT:The Cougars (16-33-4-4) continue their four-game home stand on Family Day, Monday, Feb 18th, against the Everett Silvertips (39-14-1-2). Fans can get their tickets at the TicketsNorthby Treasure Cove Casino box office, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca