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Cougars rally in third, fall to Rockets in overtime

The Prince George Cougars picked up a much-needed point in their 5-4 overtime setback to the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night at the CN Centre.

Dillion Hamaliuk scored his second goal of the game, 2:17 into three-on-three overtime, as the Rockets picked up their sixth win against the Cougars this season. Hamaliuk had three points (2-1-3) in the Rockets win. Kaden Korczak, Matthew Wedman and Pavel Novak also scored for the Rockets. Novak also had a three-point (1-2-3) night. Roman Basran earned his 20th win in net, stopping 20 of 24 shots.

Connor Bowie scored twice in the third period and Cole Moberg and Filip Koffer also found the back of the net. Koffer scored with just 19 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Bowie’s two goals came three minutes apart, tying the game at that time after the Cougars were down 3-1 midway through the third period.

Tyler Brennan was tagged with the loss after he surrendered five goals on 28 shots.

The Cougars’ power play came up clutch, as they scored twice on six opportunities. The penalty kill was 5-6.

With the single point the Cougars sit 11 points back of the Seattle Thunderbirds for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Prince George still has two games in hand on the T-birds with 12 games remaining on their schedule.

Kelowna scored first, just before the four-minute mark of the first period. Vegas Golden Knights prospect Kaden Korczak took a drop pass from Kyle Topping and fired his shot underneath the pad of Brennan at 3:46.

Prince George responded on the power-play. Moberg scored his ninth goal just past the seven-minute mark after he blasted a one-timer past the glove of Basran at 7:07 to make it 1-1. The game remained 1-1 until the opening shift of the second period.

Just 21-seconds into the middle frame, Wedman put the Rockets back ahead. The Florida Panthers prospect scored from the slot, over Brennan’s shoulder, after taking a pass out from behind the net.

Kelowna took that 2-1 lead into the third period and added to it on an early power-play. After the Cougars’ Vladislav Mikhalchuk was called for a double minor, it was Hamaliuk jamming in the puck at the top of the crease at 4:49 to make it 3-1.

Que the comeback.

Connor Bowie scored his first of two of the third period at 9:47 to make it 3-2. Bowie got just enough of Moberg’s blast from the blue line to beat Basran for his 11th goal of the season. Then, three minutes later, he scored to tie the game. Bowie picked up the puck on the boards, turned and fired, and had his shot go in off a defender’s arm and into the net at 12:50.

Kelowna went back ahead inside the final three minutes of the third. During a four-on-four sequence, Pavel Novak cut down the right-wing, dragged the puck around the sprawled out defenceman, and forced his shot through Brennan’s arm to make it 4-3 at 17:13. Novak’s 10th point against the Cougars this season.

Prince George dug in and manufactured another tying goal. With the net empty, Bowie won the face-off back to Moberg, who hammered the puck on net. The point shot created a rebound off the goalie’s pad and it was Koffer who jammed it across the goal line at 19:41. His eighth of the season tying the game 4-4 with 19 seconds left on the clock.

In overtime, the Rockets salvaged the extra point after Hamaliuk scored his second of the game on a two-on-one rush. Alex Swetlikoff fired a cross ice pass to Hamaliuk who fired the puck just past the pad of Brennan at 2:17, for the Rockets seventh overtime win this season.

Game Notes: Josh Maser extended his point streak to six games He has seven points (3-4-7) over those six games. Once scoring changes are finalized, Connor Bowie’s two-goal performance will be his first multi-goal game in his WHL career. The Cougars power-play has scored four goals over the last three games. With the loss, the Cougars are now 1-4-2-0 against the Rockets this season, and 7-13-2-3 against the B.C. Division.

Next Up: The Cougars (17-31-4-4) face the Rockets (26-26-2-3) in rematch at the CN Centre on Wednesday; the puck drops at 7 p.m. It’s the Four Annual Talk Today Game, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Single game tickets start at just $13 per game. Fans can get their tickets at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca

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