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Cougars drop home opener 5-4 to Blazers

Tanya Stewart photo

The Prince George Cougars fell 5-4 to the Kamloops Blazers in their 2021-2022 regular season home opener on Saturday night at the CN Centre.

The 2,425 fans in attendance were treated to an entertaining game, as the Cougars came back from a three-goal deficit in the second period and came back from a goal down in the third.

Hudson Thornton, Kyren Gronick, Riley Heidt, and Jonny Hooker scored in the loss. Thornton finished with three points (1g-2a) and was named the game’s first star. Heidt and Hooker each had two points. Viliam Kmec chipped in with a pair of assists in his first WHL game. Tyler Brennan was tagged with the loss in net, after he stopped 26 of 31 shots.

Reese Belton and Marko Stacha staked the visitors out to a 2-0 led after the first period. Then, Josh Pillar put Kamloops ahead 3-0 just 45-seconds into the middle frame before the Cougars mounted a comeback.

In the second, the Cougars quickly made a game of it, as Thornton and Gronick scored three-minutes apart. Then it was Riley Heidt bringing Prince George back on even terms with his nifty redirect goal with just 1:25 left in period.

The Blazers did forge ahead again midway through the third period, when Tye Spencer broke a 3-3 tie at 9:46. However, the Cougars had another rebuttal.

The Captain, Jonny Hooker, tied it 4-4 at 12:55 of the third. With the Cougars up a man, Hooker had first shot attempt blocked but he got his own rebound and quickly fired his second attempt past Dylan Garand.

Kamloops played spoilers late, as they scored a power-play goal of their own with five-minutes to go. Connor Levis scored the game-winner when he buried a pass out from behind the net at 15:09 to make it 5-4.

The Cougars (0-1-0-0) now hit the road for a pair of games next weekend against the Vancouver Giants (1-0-0-0) and Blazers (1-0-0-0) on Friday and Saturday.  Fans can watch those games on WHL Live or listen on 94.3 The GOAT.

GAME SUMMARY

Scoring

Cougars: Thornton, Gronick, Heidt, Hooker (PPG)

Blazers: Belton, Stacha, Pillar, Spencer, Levis (PPG)

Goaltending

Cougars: Tyler Brennan, 58:55, 26/31

Blazers: Dylan Garand, 60:00, 25/29

Power-Play

Cougars: 1/3

Blazers:  1/4

Shots

Cougars: 29

Blazers: 31

Three Stars:  1) Hudson Thornton 2) Josh Pillar 3) Jonny Hooker

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