Recap: Americans Rally, Top Cougars in Shootout
The Prince George Cougars earned three out of four points in their weekend doubleheader against the Tri-City Americans, after their 6-5 shootout loss Saturday at the CN Centre.
The Cougars (15-18-4-3) were 10-minutes away from sweeping the weekend series, before the Americans (21-12-5-0) rallied to push the game beyond regulation.
Specials teams dominated the storyline on Saturday, as the two teams combined for five power-play goals. The Americans scored three times on the man-advantage, including twice in the third period to erase a 5-3 deficit. The Cougars scored twice on four opportunities Saturday and had four power-play goals in two games against the Americans on the weekend.
Jared Bethune, Aaron Boyd, Jackson Leppard, Dennis Cholowski and Max Kryski all scored in the loss. Tavin Grant stopped 34 of 39 shots through regulation and overtime, and stopped two of three shooters in the shootout.
Tri-City scored the only goal in the three-round shootout, as Parker AuCoin was the only shooter to scored out of six shooters.
Prince George got out to a quick start, scoring twice in just over a minute in the first period to go up by a pair of goals on the Americans. Bethune, who notched a hat-trick Friday, opened the scoring Saturday and in style. Bethune raced down the ice, dragged the puck around the defenceman, then fired it past Beck Warm on the stick side at 7:32; his fourth goal in his last two games.
Just 79-seconds later, Boyd doubled the Cougars lead, finishing off a cross-ice pass from Jackson Leppard. Josh Curtis took the puck away along the wall, before going across the Leppard, who quickly fired it back across the zone to Boyd, who beat Warm on the near-side.
Soon after Josh Maser got into a fight with Roman Kalinichenko, after the Americans defenceman laid an open-ice hit on Bethune. Maser came over in defense of his teammate and dropped Kalinichenko with a couple of heavy blows; Kalinichenko left the game and didn’t return.
The Americans made it 2-1 late in the first after Sasha Mutala tipped in a point shot on a power-play. Mutala got a piece of Mitchell Brown’s point-shot, that he steered through Grant’s pads at 16:40.
The Cougars padded their lead in the second, scoring twice on the power-play just a minute and a half apart. First, Leppard cleaned up a rebound at the top of the crease at 11:24. Cholowski had his sharp-angle shot bounce over to Leppard, who shoveled in his ninth. The Cougars went right back on the power-play, as Leppard was decked by Brett Clayton’s cross-check after he scored.
On that ensuing man-advantage, Cholowski picked the corner from the blue-line for his 13th goal of the season at 12:55 to make it 4-1; his fifth goal in the last four games.
Only 16-seconds after Cholowski scored, Tri-City’s Jordan Topping made it 4-2, capitalizing on rebound right off a face-off. Then Maxwell James made it 4-3, banking the puck in off the skate of Grant at the side of the net at 15:55.
Early in the third the Cougars went back up by two, as Max Kryski made it 5-3, when he scored his third of the season at 3:30. Jackson Leppard stole the puck behind the net on the fore-check, and centered for Kryski who fought through traffic to beat Warm on the blocker-side.
The game turned midway through the third, when the Americans were handed a four-minute power-play, and they didn’t squander the opportunity. Parker AuCoin scored twice in a minute and a half stretch on the extended power-play. AuCoin made it 5-4 at 10:41, finishing a cross-ice pass from Jordan Topping on the far-side. Then AuCoin tied in on the second half of the power-play, making it 5-5 at 12:16.
The Cougars best chance to win it came in OT, when Curtis was handed a penalty-shot, after being hauled down by Anthony Bishop. Curtis tried to go five-hole on Warm but the goalie closed the door.
FINAL SCORE: 6-5 Americans (Shootout)
Shots: 43-39 Cougars
Power-Plays: Cougars 2-4 Americans 3-5
Three Stars: 1) Jackson Leppard 2) Jordan Topping 3) Dennis Cholowski
The Cougars continue their home stand Tuesday and Wednesday, when they face their BC Division rivals, the Vancouver Giants; puck drop is 7 pm for both games. Tickets are available at the TicketsNorth box office, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca