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Cougars earn top seed in West with 5-2 win over Blazers

BY COLE WALDIE

Prince George Cougars

The Prince George Cougars clinched the #1 seed in the Western Conference for the 2024 WHL Playoffs after a commanding 5-2 victory over the Kamloops Blazers in their final regular-season game.

Riley Heidt, freshly signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild, showcased his talent with a hat-trick performance, propelling the Cougars to victory.

In a tightly contested game, both teams traded chances in the opening period, with goaltenders Joshua Ravensbergen and Jesse Sanche standing tall. Despite Kamloops opening the scoring with an Ashton Ferster tip-in at 6:31, Heidt answered swiftly, netting two goals at 11:31 and 13:51, giving Prince George a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. The Cougars led the shot count, outshooting Kamloops 13-6 in the frame.

Kamloops came back strong in the final period, as Ferster once again found the back of the net early to tie the game at two. However, Prince George’s Ondrej Becher, extending his points streak to an impressive 19 games, regained the lead with his 32nd goal of the campaign at 5:29. Heidt then capitalized on a breakaway opportunity, receiving a pass from Zac Funk and completing his hat-trick at 11:15, igniting the 6,029 fans at CN Centre. Borya Valis sealed the victory with a goal off a faceoff at 16:52, securing the Cougars’ 49th win of the season.

With their sights set on playoff success, the Cougars now turn their focus to the Western Conference Quarter-Finals, where they will face the eighth-seed Spokane Chiefs. Game 1 is scheduled for 7:00 pm at the CN Centre on Friday, March 29.

 

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