The Prince George Cougars (4-4-1-1) split a pair of weekend games after a 7-5 loss to the Kelowna Rockets (2-1-0-0) on Saturday at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.
It was a back-and-forth affair that had a bit of everything. The two teams combined for five short-handed goals, two players scored their first WHL goals, and the Rockets’ Trevor Wong scored four times.
The Cougars scored two short-handed goals in the loss and they finished with a pair of power-play goals. The Rockets did ding the Cougars for three short-handed markers of their own.
Kyren Gronick and Fischer O’Brien scored the short-handed goals for Prince George. For O’Brien, it was his first in the WHL. Trevor Wong scored a pair of short-handed markers for Kelowna and Kaedan Korczak also had a short-handed tally.
Gronick had a pair of goals in the loss and Koehn Ziemmer and Keaton Dowhaniuk also found the back of the net. 16-year-old Ty Young, who was making his first start in the WHL, stopped 28 of 34 shots in a losing effort. The power-play went 2-6 and the penalty-kill was 5-5.
“It begins at the start of the game. We weren’t ready for the pressure they had. We didn’t counter their (Rockets) physicality and their energy and that put us on our heels. Credit to our younger guys as they did the best job at dealing with the pressure. They gave us a chance at the end,” said Associate Coach Jason Smith following the loss.
Saturday was the Rockets’ first game since March 28th as they had nearly three weeks between games due to COVID-19 protocols. They certainly didn’t look one bit rusty at the start, as Wong scored the first of his four goals just 23-seconds into the game.
The Rockets held three separate three-goal leads throughout the game but nearly squandered it at the end. Down 6-2 in the third period, the Cougars mounted a comeback as they scored three-straight to make it 6-5 with two and a half minutes left. However, the Rockets’ Mark Liwiski iced the game with an empty-net goal with just under one and a half minutes left on the clock.
Cougars- Kyren Gronick (2), Koehn Ziemmer, Fischer O’Brien, Keaton Dowhaniuk
Rockets- Trevor Wong (4), Andrew Cristall, Kaeden Korczak, Mark Liwiski (EN)
Cougars- Ty Young, 59:00, 28 saves, 34 shots
Rockets- Cole Schwebius, 60:00 23 saves, 28 shots
Three Stars: 1) Trevor Wong 2) Jake Poole 3) Kyren Gronick
Game Notes: The Rockets were close to a WHL record. The most short-handed goals scored in a single game by one team is five. That record was set by the Saskatoon Blades on October 27, 1982 in a 7-5 win over the Prince Albert Raiders. Forward Davin Griffin left the game in the third period and did not return after sustaining an undisclosed injury. Saturday marked the ninth time in 10 games this season the Cougars have surrendered the game’s first goal. They’re now 3-4-1-1 when being scored on first.
Next Game: Monday, April 19 at the Vancouver Giants (Sandman Centre) at 7 p.m.