The Prince George Cougars opened up their weekend doubleheader against Tri-City with a convincing 5-1 win on Friday night at the CN Centre.
The Cougars’ Ilijah Colina scored the game winner 42-seconds into the third period which broke a 1-1 tie as Prince George won their second-straight game.
It was a season-high four-goal third period that proved to be the difference. Tyson Upper, Cole Moberg and Vladislav Mikhalchuk all scored in the final frame. Josh Maser scored a power-play goal in the second period. Mikhalchuk had three points (1-2-3) in the third period and was named the game’s first star.
Taylor Gauthier stopped 21 of 22 shots to earn his 10th win of the season. Three Cougars had multi-point games as the Cougars earned their first win against Tri-City this season (1-2-0-0).
Luke Zazula scored the only Americans’ goal and 15-year-old Affiliate Ronin Geraghty stopped 29 of 34 shots in the visitors’ crease; Tri-City has lost their last eight.
It was a scoreless first period despite the Cougars outshooting the Americans 14-5. Prince George held Tri-City without a shot for the entire back half of the opening frame.
Tri-City did open the scoring 6:44 into the second period after Zazula picked the corner from the right-wing after a drop pass by Parker Bell. That lead lasted 10 minutes before the Cougars responded late in the period on the power-play.
The Cougars were given their second powerplay of the night late in the middle frame after Tyson Greenway bowled over Gauthier in the crease. Prince George didn’t waste the opportunity. Cole Moberg let loose a rocket that was tipped in past the goaltender by Josh Maser at the crease at 16:16; his 20th of the season tied the game 1-1.
Prince George blew the game wide open in the third period, scoring four goals in under eight-minutes.
First, 42-seconds into the frame, Colina grab the Cougars their first lead when he snapped the puck through the goalie’s pads from the face-off dot. Upper fed him the pass out of the corner; Colina’s seventh made it 2-1 and stood up as the game-winning goal.
39-seconds later Upper went from playmaker to goal scorer, as he took a cross-ice pass from Mikhalchuk on an odd-man rush and added an insurance marker at 1:21.
Prince George was handed their third powerplay of the game minutes later and they cashed in again. After Ryan Schoettler stretched out at the blueline to hold in the puck in the zone, he teed up Moberg, who ripped a shot high over the goalie’s shoulder at 5:20 to make it 4-1.
The Cougars finished off the scoring just two minutes later. Mikhalchuk intercepted the puck at his own blue-line and he broke down the middle, splitting the two defencemen and he capped off the play by tucking the puck in five-hole; his 4th of the year at 7:59.
Emotions ran hot in the third period, as Marco Creta and the Americans’ Edge Lambert dropped the gloves after the two got tangled up in the corner. Prince George ran into penalty trouble later, as they had to kill-off a five-on-three power-play midway through the final frame.
Game Notes: With the win tonight, the Cougars finish the month of January with a winning record (5-4-1-1). Their first winning month of the season. Mikhalchuk (1-2-3), Upper (1-1-2) and Moberg (1-1-2) each had multi-point games. Maser and Upper each have scored in back-to-back games. The Cougars improve to 14-25-3-4 and pull two points ahead of the Americans in the Western Conference standings. Prince George is eight points back of the final wildcard playoff spot.
Next Up: The Cougars look for the weekend sweep tomorrow night, February 1st, on “Country Night.” The puck drops at 7:00pm. Single game tickets start at just $13 per person, per game. Fans can get their tickets at the CN Centre box office, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca
Cougars – 2/4
Americans – 0/3
Cougars – 34
Americans – 22
Three Stars: 1) Vlad Mikhalchuk 2) Tyson Upper 3) Cole Moberg