The Prince George Cougars brought out the brooms on Wednesday, sweeping their midweek doubleheader against the Seattle Thunderbirds, after their 2-1 shootout win at the CN Centre.
Cole Moberg scored the game winner in the fourth round of the shootout, as the Cougars earned their third win in their last four games to move within seven points of the Thunderbirds for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Ilijah Colina scored the only Cougars’ goal in regulation, as the two teams were deadlocked 1-1 through 65-minutes. Taylor Gauthier, who was named the game’s first star, was sensational in goal turning aside 34 of 35 shots through regulation and overtime. He stopped three of four shooters in the shootout.
Seattle led 1-0 after the first period on a late power-play goal from Andrej Kukuca. The Slovakian product fired a wrist-shot from the blue-line that found its way through traffic and past Gauthier on the stick side at 18:13.
The score remained unchanged until the midway mark of the second period when Colina equalized on a breakaway. Ryan Schoettler spotted Colina open at the Thunderbirds’ blue-line and hit him with a breakaway pass from inside the Cougars’ zone and Colina moved in alone and scored over the blocker of Roddy Ross at 13:04.
The Thunderbirds almost responded right away. Lucas Ciona got a pass out front from behind the net and tried to shovel the puck in on his backhand, but Gauthier reached back with his stick and swept the puck off the goal line to keep it 1-1.
In the third period, Gauthier made another timely save, this time off of Kukuca right at the top of the crease. Prince George was careless with the puck and turned it over right in front of their net, but Gauthier flared out his pad to stop Kukuca’s backhand attempt.
Maser had the Cougars’ best chance to break the deadlock in the third period. The point shot was stopped but the rebound sat at the top of the crease. Maser dug at it but couldn’t jam the loose puck past Ross who had his back to the ice.
Both teams had great looks in overtime. Gauthier save his best for last, making the save of the game in the extra frame. Seattle broke in on a two-on-one, but it was Gauthier getting across and making a huge glove save off of Owen Williams to preserve the 1-1 tie.
Vladislav Mikhalchuk had the Cougars’ best chance in OT. Mikhalchuk went wide around the defenceman before driving the net but he chipped the puck just wide of the post.
Prince George went two-for-four in the shootout. Ethan Browne hit the post in round one, but Mikhalchuk scored in the second round to give the Cougars the advantage. The Thunderbirds scored in their half of the third round to stay alive, but it was Moberg scoring in the fourth to give the Cougars the extra point.
Game Notes: With the win tonight, the Cougars move within seven points of the Thunderbirds for the final wildcard playoff spot in the Western Conference. Prince George plays the Thunderbirds two more times this season. Wednesday was the Cougars’ first shootout win this season (1-4) and their first since February 22nd, 2019. With his goal, Colina extended his point streak to four games. Jack Sander stretched his point streak to four games too with his assist on Colina’s second period goal.
Next Up: The Cougars (16-26-3-4) hit the road for a pair of games this weekend. Prince George is in Langley to face the Vancouver Giants on Saturday, February 8th. Then, they head across the border to battle the Thunderbirds on Sunday, February 9th. Fans can watch both games at Brown’s Socialhouse. Fans listen to game on 94.3 The GOAT, or they can watch on WHL Live.
Cougars – 0/5
Thunderbirds – 1/2
Cougars – 25
Thunderbirds – 35
Three Stars: 1) Taylor Gauthier 2) Roddy Ross 3) Ilijah Colina