BY FRASER RODGERS
Prince George Cougars
The Prince George Cougars rode the goaltending of Taylor Gauthier as they returned home to edge the Spokane Chiefs 2-1 Friday night at the CN Centre.
Taylor Gauthier stopped 37 shots, including 29 over the final two periods, backstopping the Cougars to their third win in their last four games. The 18-year-old goaltender was an obvious choice for the game’s first star. Gauthier stopped 16 of 17 in the second and all 13 he faced in the final 20-minutes to pick up his first win at home this season.
“I really liked our start. We lost our work ethic in the second period, but we got our composure back in the third period, killed off a couple big penalties, and found a way. That was a really gutty effort by our team,” said General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb.
Matéj Toman and Tyson Upper scored in the first period for Prince George, and Filip Koffer chipped in with two assists. Upper had an assist as well for a two-point night.
Friday was the Cougars’ second win in a week against the Chiefs, as they won in Spokane 3-1 last Friday.
Erik Atchison was the only Chiefs’ player to beat Gauthier on Friday, scoring midway through the second period on a rebound. Campbell Arnold was the losing goaltender, kicking out 22 of 24 shots.
The Cougars’ first goal came seconds after two big stops by Gauthier at the other end of the rink. Bobby Russell was denied point-blank by the Cougars’ puck-stopper and the rebound try from Connor Gabruch was denied as well. Prince George then skated down ice the other way, where it was Toman taking a drop pass and scoring stick-side.
Their second goal came on a nice passing play. Koffer threaded a cross-ice pass to a streaking Upper who redirected the puck in at the far-post midway through the opening frame.
Of Gauthier’s 37-saves, his two best came late in the third period. First, he stopped Adam Beckman on a one-timer at the top of the crease, then he snared Filip Kral’s slap-shot with his glove during a Chiefs’ power-play.
“That’s the save you always dream of making,” said Gauthier on his stop late off of Kral. “Last minute of the game, team’s up by one and you give it a little flare and give fans something to cheer about.”
Game Notes: Forward Ilijah Colina made his season debut Friday. Colina had missed the Cougars’ first eight games with an upper-body injury. With his two assists Friday, Filip Koffer now has six points (1-5-6) in the last four games. Tyson Upper’s goal was his first since opening night (Sep 20th) when he scored twice against the Vancouver Giants. Friday’s win was the Cougars’ first at home against Spokane since February 14th, 2017.
Next Up: The Cougars (3-5-0-1) face the Chiefs (4-4-1-0) again tomorrow on Oktoberfest night at the CN Centre. One lucky fan will walk away with a minimum $15,000 prize in the Cougars’ Society 50/50 Mega Jackpot (19+; know your limit, play within it). Tickets for Oktoberfest are on-sale at the TicketsNorth by Treasure Cove Casino box office, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca 50/50 tickets go on-sale at 12:00 pm tomorrow.
Cougars [1-0] Matéj Toman (2) from Filip Koffer and Tyson Upper 4:58
Cougars [2-0] Tyson Upper (3) from Filip Koffer and Ethan Browne 11:46 game-winner
Chiefs [2-1] Erik Atchison (1) from Luke Toporowski 9:26
Three Stars: 1) Taylor Gauthier 2) Filip Koffer 3) Tyson Upper