BY FRASER RODGERS
Prince George Cougars
The Prince George Cougars winless streak has stretched to four games after a 5-2 setback to the Tri-City Americans Saturday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, WA.
In a feisty, penalty-filled affair, it was the Americans’ special teams proving to be the difference. Tri-City killed-off all seven Cougars’ power-plays, including a five-minute man-advantage and a four-minute power-play in the third period.
Paycen Bjorklund, Samuel Huo, and Sasha Mutala scored for the Americans to have them up 3-1 after 40-minutes. Nick Bowman and Marc Lajoie scored empty-net goals in the final two and half minutes in regulation to seal the victory for Tri-City.
Huo and Mutala scored 50-seconds apart early into the second to break open a 1-1 tie.
Talyn Boyko has now won both of his starts against Prince George and has combined to stop 70 of 74 shots in those two games. The 17-year-old stopped 39 of 41 shots Saturday night and was named the game’s first star.
Rhett Rhinehart and Filip Koffer scored for the Cougars, as they lost their second-straight game in Kennewick. Rhinehart scored late in the first period to tie the game 1-1. It was a superb individual effort by the Cougars’ defenceman, as he circled the zone before moving into the slot where he scored on the glove-side. It was Rhinehart’s first goal of the season.
Koffer brought the Cougars within one goal, making it 3-2 midway through the third period after scoring on a rebound from the top of the crease. Koffer’s third goal of the season came seconds after an extended five-on-three power-play had expired.
Taylor Gauthier started in goal but was injured late in the second period and was replaced by Tyler Brennan. Gauthier stopped 10 of 13 shots he faced before being injured. Brennan turned aside all 10 he faced in 21 and a half minutes of work.
There was a parade to the penalty-box all night, as the two teams combined for 12 power-plays and 75 penalty-minutes.
Game Notes: As of Saturday night, there was no further update on Taylor Gauthier’s status and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Filip Koffer’s goal now moves him into first place in the team scoring race, with eight points (3-5-8) in 13 games. Prince George fell to 2-3-0-0 against the U.S. Division, and their road record now sits at 1-3-0-1.
Next Up: The Cougars (3-9-0-1) look to shake their four-game losing streak Sunday afternoon against the Vancouver Giants (7-8-0-0) at the Langley Events Centre; the puck drops at 4:00 pm. It’s the third of nine meetings between the two teams. Fans can listen to the game on 94-3 The GOAT or watch at Brown’s Socialhouse in Prince George.
Americans [1-0] Paycen Bjorklund, Assists: Sam Stewart 13:35
Cougars [1-1] Rhett Rhinehart (1), Assists: Tyson Upper, Matéj Toman 18:39
Americans [2-1] Sam Huo, Assists: Nick Bowman, Ian Ferguson 2:48
Americans [3-1] Sasha Mutala, Assists: Connor Bouchard, Kyle Olson 3:38
Cougars [3-2] Filip Koffer (3), Assists: Josh Maser, Cole Moberg, 13:39
Americans [4-2] Nick Bowman, Assists: Connor Bouchard 17:41 empty-net
Americans [5-2] Marc Lajoie, 19:36 empty-net
Three Stars: 1) Talyn Boyko 2) Sasha Mutala 3) Sam Huo