The Prince George Cougars (4-3-1-1) are back in the win column after a 5-2 win Friday against the Victoria Royals (1-8-1-0) at Prospera Place in Kelowna.
A big second period was the difference for the Cougars, who have now won three of their last four games. Prince George scored three times in the middle frame, including the game-winning goal off the stick of Jonny Hooker.
Majid Kaddoura and Keaton Dowhaniuk also scored in the second. For Dowhaniuk it was his first goal in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Kyren Gronick (empty net) and Tyson Upper scored 10 seconds apart late in the third to put the game to bed. Riley Heidt chipped in with two assists.
Taylor Gauthier was solid between the pipes for the Cougars. The 19-year-old picked up his second win of the season after turning aside 19 of 21 shots.
“We competed from start to finish and did a lot of good things tonight. We came back from being down early and played with the lead. When you play a complete game, you give yourself a chance to win and we look like a team that is showing signs of growth,” said Associate Coach Jason Smith post-game.
It was a big bounce-back performance from the Cougars after a 5-0 setback to the Kamloops Blazers on Wednesday. Friday’s win was their second in three games against the Royals this season, as the Cougars have yet to lose in regulation to the Royals (2-0-1-0).
The Cougars trailed 1-0 after the first period, despite a solid opening 20-mintues. The Royals’ Brayden Tracey scored a power-play goal midway through the frame to give Victoria the 1-0 leading heading into the intermission.
Prince George came out swinging in the second, as Kaddoura tied the game with his first of the season two minutes and nine seconds into the frame. Then, Dowhaniuk hammered home his first in the WHL one minute and 14 seconds after Kaddoura’s goal to put Prince George up 2-1.
The Royals’ Trentyn Crane tied it midway through the second, but the Cougars retook the lead thanks to a great effort from Hooker. The Cougars’ winger drove the net from the right-wing and put his shot inside the far post and past the goalie’s blocker at 18:08.
In the third period, Gronick sealed the win for the Cougars with his empty-net goal with 26 seconds left. Upper provided the finishing touches on the victory on the very next shift. The 19-year-old got his first of the season with just 16 seconds left on the clock, as he snuck a shot through the goalie’s pad for his first of the season.
Cougars- Kaddoura, Dowhaniuk, Hooker, Gronick (EN), Upper
Royals- Tracey, Crane
Cougars- Taylor Gauthier, 60:00, 19 saves, 21 shots
Royals- Connor Martin, 59:24, 36 saves, 40 shots
Three Stars: 1) Jonny Hooker 2) Trentyn Crane 3) Keaton Dowhaniuk
Game Notes: The Cougars are above the .500 mark after nine games for the first time since the 2016-17 season when they started 8-1-0-0. Jonny Hooker has three goals and four points in three games against the Royals this season. With Friday’s win, the Cougars are 3-1-1-0 in their last five games.
Next Game: Saturday, April 17 versus the Kelowna Rockets at 7:00 pm. Fans can listen to the game on 94-3 The GOAT, or they can watch on CHL TV.