Friday night in Portland, Oregon the Prince George Cougars dropped a 9-2 score to the Portland Winterhawks. Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and four assists, and Brendan Burke turned aside 29 of the 31 shots he faced to lead the defending champs to victory. Klarc Wilson and Brad Morrison responded with goals for the Cougars.
Both teams traded chances in the early stages with both Brett Zarowny and Brendan Burke making some key early stops. Brendan Burke got some help from his goal post as well when Jari Erricson was unable to convert off a two-on-zero rush.
Halfway through the first period, Portland opened the scoring when Preston Kopeck capitalized off a wrap-around chance. Layne Viveiros and Keoni Texeira set up Kopeck’s first of the season.
Just over three minutes later the Cougars answered back when Klarc Wilson tipped home a Jari Erricson shot. Zach Pochiro started the play with some strong work behind the net. Pochiro added the second assist.
Late in the first period, Portland thought they had taken a 2-1 lead on a power play. But the referee disallowed the goal after ruling that Nic Petan had interfered with goaltender Brett Zarowny in the Cougars crease.
The Cougars caught a break and skated into the dressing room tied 1-1 after one. They outshot Portland 10-9 after one period.
Early in the second, Portland would capitalize on the same power play. Nic Petan tried centering a pass into the goalmouth area, and unfortunately for the Cougars the puck deflected off a Cougars defender and in past Brett Zarowny.
From there, it was all Portland. Layne Viveiros, Preston Kopeck, Chase De Leo and Oliver Bjorkstrand all scored, and after 40 minutes the Winterhawks had a 6-1 lead.
Prince George had a number of quality chances early in the second, but Brendan Burke was up to the task, making several key stops off of Troy Bourke, Alex Forsberg, Jansen Harkins and Zach Pochiro.
Rookie goaltender Ty Edmonds entered the game in the third period for the Cougars was immediately thrown into the fire. Zach Pochiro was assessed a five-minute major penalty for fighting, and Portland took full advantage scoring three times.
Chase De Leo, Garrett Haar and Anton Cederholm all scored on the same power play to give Portland a 9-1 cushion.
Brad Morrison would score late for the Cougars to make the score and the final 9-2.
Portland outshot the Cougars 39-31 and finished five-for-eight on the power play. At the other end, the Cougars only received two power plays, and were unable to score.
Oliver Bjorkstrand paced Portland with a goal and four assists while Preston Kopeck, Taylor Leier, Nic Petan and Layne Viveiros all had standout games.
The good news for the Cougars is that they don’t have to wait long for a chance at redemption as they are back in action tomorrow night in Everett against the Silvertips.