The Prince George Cougars celebrated their 30th-year anniversary season opener in spectacular fashion, delivering an unforgettable performance against the Tri-City Americans. With two hat-tricks from Zac Funk and Viliam Kmec and an exceptional 28-save shutout in his WHL debut by Josh Ravensbergen, the Cougars thrilled their fans with a dominant 9-0 victory.
The game started with fireworks as Zac Funk, on a power play, opened the scoring at 9:40. The 20-year-old forward from Coldstream capitalized on an Ondrej Becher face-off win and sent the puck past Nick Avakyan. Just over a minute later, Viliam Kmec extended the lead with a terrific top-corner wrister from the blue-line at 10:59. Despite facing nearly two minutes of a 5-on-3 disadvantage, the Cougars’ penalty kill unit held strong. PG capitalized on their momentum, as Ondrej Becher found the back of the net with a setup from Funk and Terik Parascak, making it 3-0. The Cougars continued to pour on the goals, with Kmec scoring his second of the night at 18:20, followed by Funk netting his second just 22 seconds later.
The second period witnessed a fantastic performance from rookie Terik Parascak, who scored his first WHL goal at 1:28, assisted by a terrific pass from Zac Funk during an odd-man rush. Parascak wasn’t finished there, as he struck again, this time on a shorthanded breakaway at 3:54. With seven goals on the board, Prince George held a commanding 7-0 lead heading into the intermission.
In the final period, Zac Funk and Viliam Kmec netted their first career WHL hat-tricks, with Funk completing his at 2:40 and Kmec capping his at 18:39. Joshua Ravensbergen continued to impress, providing steady goaltending for Prince George, and securing a remarkable 28-save shutout, sealing the Cougars’ marvellous 9-0 victory to kickstart the 2023-2024 season.
Josh Ravensbergen, the 16-year-old goaltender from North Vancouver, couldn’t hide his excitement, saying, “That was a lot of fun out there. That is going to be something I will remember for a while. Playing in the WHL is something I’ve wanted my whole life, and to play in front of that many people was pretty exciting.”