The Cougars caught and passed the Okanagan Rockets thanks to an overtime win and a blowout victory against their rival this past weekend in Kelowna. The Cats prevailed 9-8 in a wild, extra-time game on Saturday and cruised to a 10-5 win on Sunday.
In the first game, Brady McIsaac played overtime hero on a setup from Pryce Peats and Scott Cousins. McIsaac struck with 2:52 left in a 10-minute OT session. In the game, the Cougars scored the final three goals of the third period to force overtime. Linden Makow had two of those clutch markers and McIsaac had the other, all in the last 13 minutes. The 8-6 and 8-7 goals were both power-play markers.
The Rockets held a 3-2 lead after the first period and were ahead 6-5 after the second.
Cousins scored both first-period goals for the Cats, while Decker Mujcin, Makow and Peats struck in the second.
Kailus Green led the Rockets with two goals. Parker Konneke, Rhett Hamilton, Austin Roest, Carter Schmidt and Isaak Moore also scored for the hosts.
Jasper Tait of the Cougars and Wilson Maxfield of the Rockets were the starting goaltenders.
In the Sunday rematch, Cousins exploded for four goals, including three in a row from the last part of the second period to the first part of the third. Chase Pacheco (2) and Makow (2) also had multi-goal games for the Cats, who got the rest of their offence from McIsaac and Mujcin.
Max Graham scored twice for the Rockets, while Green, Schmidt and Roest had singles.
The Cougars scored three power-play goals and the Rockets had two.
Between the pipes, Tait picked up the win and Ethan Reynaud was on the hook for the loss.
In the standings, the Cougars (14-3-1-0) moved one point ahead of the Rockets (14-4-0-0). When the clubs met on the opening weekend of the season in Prince George, the Rockets skated to 6-2 and 8-0 wins.
The Cats will be in Delta this weekend for games against the fifth-place Valley West Giants (7-9-1-1).
In other games involving Cariboo Hockey teams last weekend, the major bantam Cougars lost 5-2 to the Valley West Giants on Saturday in Delta but bounced back for a 7-6 overtime win on Sunday. Braden Vennard was the man who ended the Sunday thriller. The Cougars are now fifth in the eight-team league with a mark of 6-8-0-2. The Hawks, meanwhile, sit last at 2-10-1-1.
In bantam double-A play, the North Central Bobcats dropped a pair on home ice to North East, 4-1 on Saturday and 7-1 on Sunday. In the standings, the Bobcats (2-9-1-0) are sixth of eight teams.