Jared Bethune’s goal in the third round of the shootout was the difference, as the Prince George Cougars came back from two, two-goal deficits, to knock-off the Everett Silvertips 4-3 Friday at the CN Centre.
Bethune was the only player to score, on both sides, in the three-round shootout, beating Carter Hart on the short-side with a wrist-shot from the circle. His goal handing the Cougars their sixth win on the season and first at home since October 10th; they also snapped their three-game winless streak.
Prince George persevered Friday, as they came back despite trailing 2-0 after the first period and 3-1 late in the second.
Kody McDonald, Jackson Leppard and Jack Sander scored in regulation for the Cougars, who exacted a measure of revenge on Everett, after losing to the Silvertips 3-1 last Friday. Sander game-tying goal, was his first career goal in the WHL and it forced the game into overtime.
After allowing two goals on six shots in the first, Tavin Grant buckled down the rest of the way, stopping 16 of 17 shots through the final 65-minutes, picking up his fifth win of the year.
Sean Richards scored twice and Gianni Fairbrother had the other goal for the Silvertips, who dropped their second consecutive game, after losing to Portland at home Saturday.
Fairbrother opened the scoring eight and a half minutes into the first, firing a wrist-shot from the blue-line that snuck through the legs of Grant; Fairbrother scoring his first WHL goal.
Richards added to the Silvertips lead six-minutes after that goal. The Silvertips’ forward came down the left-wing and as he got to the goal-line, he slid the puck five-hole on Grant at 14:36.
Prince George got back into the game seconds into the second, when Kody McDonald found the puck out front after a short scramble in the Silvertips crease. On the power-play, McDonald dug the puck loose and put it into an open net just 32-seconds into the second period. McDonald scoring his team-best 10th goal of the year to cut the deficit to 2-1. He also has a team best three power-play goals.
Dennis Cholowski almost tied it up not long after McDonald’s goal, but his shot from the blue-line rang off the post behind Carter Hart.
Move to the second, and Everett restored their two-goal lead, as they went up 3-1 with under four-minutes left. Richards was at it again, deflecting Ian Walker’s point-shot past Grant at 16:43.
Prince George answered quickly though, as Jackson Leppard replied 44-seconds later. Bethune dropped the puck for the trailing Leppard and he wired a wrist-shot past Hart’s blocker from between the circles at 17:27. Leppard collecting his second point of the period, after he assisted on McDonald’s goal earlier.
The Cougars persisted in the third period and got their breakthrough with less than five-minutes to go in regulation. Josh Maser won a footrace to the puck in the corner and fired it back up top to Sander at the line. The rookie rear-guard had his wrist-shot sail by several bodies in front and over Hart’s shoulder at 15:20. The 17-year-old not only scoring his first WHL goal, but doing so in front of his parents, who made the trip out from Alberta.
Head Coach Richard Matvichuk was happy to see Sander get rewarded, “We go to work every night’ our defencemen have stepped up in taking a lot of shots, and the hard work paid off tonight.”
Everett had the advantage in overtime, but Grant was the difference maker in the Cougars net. He twice stopped Everett forward Matt Fonteyne on breakaways, getting a blocker to his first chance, and sticking out his pad on Fonteyne’s other clear-cut opportunity.
In the shootout, after Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Cholowski were stopped, Bethune carved his way into the Everett zone, before firing short-side, past Hart’s glove. Grant then stopped Bryce Kindopp on the Silvertips last chance to extended the shootout.
Final Score: 4-3 Cougars (SO)
Shots: 25-23 Cougars
Power-Plays: Cougars 1-3 Everett 0-2
Three Stars: 1) Jackson Leppard 2) Sean Richards 3) Jack Sander
Prince George (6-8-2-2) improves their record to 2-4-2-0 at home this season and they’ve split their first two games of the season series against Everett. The Cougars were 2-2 on the penalty-kill Friday, as they’ve now killed-off 39 straight penalties dating back to October 14th.
These two teams go at it again Saturday, at 7 pm, during “Heroes Night,” brought to you by Trans Canada. The Cougars will be honouring veterans, active service men and women and first responders prior to the game, as part of Remembrance Day long weekend. Tickets are available at the TicketsNorth box office, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca.