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Teddy bears fly 88 seconds in; Cougars down Royals 4-2

Eighty-eight seconds. That’s all it took for the Prince George Cougars to trigger their annual Teddy & Toque Toss, in their 4-2 win over the Victoria Royals at the CN Centre Saturday.

Ilijah Colina is Mr. Teddy Bear in 2019, as he scored the Cougars’ first goal just 1:28 into the first period. It was a big night for the 19-year-old who was named the game’s first star, after scoring his second of the game in the third period which turned out to be the game winner. Nikita Krivokrasov scored in the second period and Connor Bowie added an empty-net goal inside the final minute of regulation.

What a night, what a weekend for Taylor Gauthier. The Cougar’s goaltender picked up the win, stopping 32 of 34 shots and was credited with two assists, including helping set up the Teddy & Toque Toss goal. Gauthier also had an assist on Friday night. He was named the game’s third star Saturday.

Saturday’s win was long overdue for Prince George, who snapped a 10-game losing streak against Royals. Saturday was their first win against Victoria since December 2, 2018 which was the Cougars’ Teddy & Toque Toss a season ago.

Carson Miller and Gary Haden scored for the Royals, who had their two-game win streak halted. Shane Farkas was tagged with the loss, stopping 20 of 23 shots.

Colina triggered the avalanche of fur after his shot, the Cougars’ first shot of the game, got past the stick side of Farkas from the right-wing. His game-winner in the third period ended up in a similar spot too.

Tied 2-2 early in the third period, Tyson Upper fired a pass out of the corner to the trailing Colina in the slot and he wired a wrist-shot past the stick of Farkas at 6:17. His first multi-goal game since February 28th, 2018.

The Cougars led 1-0 after the first 20-minutes but the Royals countered with two goals in a five-minute stretch in the middle frame to grab a 2-1 lead. However, that lead lasted all of half a minute for the visitors.

Krivokrasov tied the game on the next shift after the Royals second goal. Bowie set up Krivokrasov in front of the net and he scored his fourth just 31-seconds after Victoria went ahead 2-1.

One of Gauthier’s best saves in his body of work Saturday came in the dying moments of the game. Leading 3-2, the Cougars were pressured by the Royals who had their goalie pulled. Gauthier made a remarkable game-saving stop with his pad right on the top of the crease against Kaid Oliver. Seconds later, Bowie fired the puck down into the empty net to seal the win.

Game Notes: The Cougars are now 9-1-1-0 in their last 11 Teddy & Toque Toss games, going back to 2009. Saturday’s win improved their home record to 5-10-1-2 and their record against the B.C. Division is now 5-10-0-3. The win tonight ended the Cougars’ six-game winless run, as they earned their first win since November 23rd. The attendance was announced at 3,395.

Next Up: The Cougars (7-20-1-3) wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule on Tuesday in Langley against the Vancouver Giants. Fans can listen to the game on 94.3 The GOAT or they can watch the webcast on WHL Live. The Cougars return to action after the Christmas break on December 27th in Everett.

Power-Play

Cougars- 0/2

Royals – 0/4

Shots

Cougars- 24

Royals- 34

Three Stars: 1) Ilijah Colina 2) Gary Haden 3) Taylor Gauthier

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