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Cougars earn first win against Rockets this season

Steve Dunsmoor photo

The Prince George Cougars picked up their first win against the Kelowna Rockets this season on Friday night, with their 3-2 victory at Prospera Place.

Connor Bowie, Craig Armstrong, and Viliam Kmec supplied the offence. Kmec finished with a pair of points (1g-1a) and was named the game’s first star.

Tyler Brennan and Taylor Gauthier teamed up to stop 37 of 39 shots. Brennan was credited with the win, as he stopped 19 of 20 shots through 43 minutes of work. Brennan left the game in the third period due to a lower body injury. Gauthier stopped 18 of 19 shots in just under 17 minutes of work.

“That was a real gutsy road win and pretty much as consistent as a game we played all season,” said Cougars’ Associate Coach Josh Dixon. “We got a good start, went through some adversity as we had to kill some penalties and be in a situation we haven’t been in a lot and that’s protect a lead on the road. It was a good growing experience for our group.”

Bowie opened the scoring in the first period, as he scored his seventh goal of the season to put the Cougars up by one at 3:31. Bowie redirected Ethan Samson’s point shot past Rockets’ goaltender Colby Knight.

The Rockets responded with a power play goal from Andrew Cristall at 7:43 to tie the game 1-1. Just five seconds in the man advantage, Cristall ripped the puck over Brennan’s shoulder from the face-off circle.

Armstrong broke the 1-1 deadlock five minutes into the second period. Kmec fired the puck at the net from the blue line, and Armstrong managed to get just of enough of it to get it through traffic and past Knight to make it 2-1 at 5:16.

Kmec added to the Cougars’ lead midway through the middle frame. The blue liner knocked down the puck off the glass, cut across to the slot and put his wrist shot over Knight’s arm at 10:37 to put Prince George up 3-1.

Kelowna turned up the heat in the third period, as they fired 22 shots at the Cougars’ net. The penalty kill was also tested as Prince George had to kill-off three consecutive Rockets’ power plays over the final 20 minutes.

The Rockets did manage to get one by Gauthier in the third, as Max Graham made it 3-2 with 3:06 left on the clock, but that’s as close as they would get.

In the end, Brennan and Gauthier combined for 21 saves in the third, as the two goaltenders backstopped the Cougars to their fourth road win of the season.

Game Notes: Friday was the Cougars first win against the Rockets since May 4th, 2021. Connor Bowie now has four goals in his last seven games. The Cougars have won two of their last three road games, as they are now 4-8-0-0 away from the CN Centre. Prince George is now 9-14-0-0 through 23 games, sitting fourth in the B.C. Division.

Next Game: The Cougars return home Saturday, Dec 11, against the Kamloops Blazers for the Northland Dodge Teddy & Toque Toss night; puck drop is 7 pm. Very limited tickets remain for Saturday’s game and are available at www.ticketsnorth.ca

 

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