The Prince George Cougars came up a goal short in a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds Sunday afternoon at the ShoWare Center in Kent, WA.
The game certainly had a playoff-like feel to it, as it was a tight-checking, hard-fought contest.
Seattle’s Matthew Rempe was credited with the game-winning goal late in second period, as the Thunderbirds picked up their first win against Prince George this season. Conner Bruggen-Cate scored in the first period, and goaltender Roddy Ross stopped 33 shots and was named the game’s first star.
With the victory, Seattle widen their gap to nine points over Prince George in the Western Conference Wildcard playoff race.
Ilijah Colina scored the Cougars’ only goal, on the power-play, in the final minutes of the second period to cut the Thunderbirds lead to 2-1. Taylor Gauthier suffered the loss in the Cougars’ net, turning aside 34 of 36 shots.
Bruggen-Cate had the icebreaker seven and a half minutes into the game. The Seattle captain scored on his own rebound beating Gauthier on the stick side at 7:24.
The T-Birds added to their lead with just over four-minutes left in the middle frame. Conner Roulette stepped out of the penalty box and rush down the left-wing and fired a wrist-shot. Matthew Rempe did get just enough of a deflection on the puck to get it past Gauthier on the stick side at 15:51 to make it 2-0. The goal was originally given to Roulette but later credited to Rempe.
The Cougars had a swift response with Ilijah Colina scoring a power-play goal 41-seconds after the Thunderbirds’ second goal. During a four-minute power-play, Colina scored from the bottom of the face-off circle, after being set up by Josh Maser from the side of the net. The goal was Colina’s eighth and made it a 2-1 game going into the third.
Emotions boiled to the surface shortly after Colina’s goal as Josh Maser and Cade McNelly tossed their gloves off and exchanged blows after a scramble in the Seattle crease.
Prince George pressed in the third period but despite outshooting the Thunderbirds, they couldn’t manufacture a game-tying goal. The Cougars had the goalie pulled for the extra attacker inside the final minute of regulation and came close to an equalizer but Cole Moberg’s point shot narrowly missed the net.
Game Notes: With his goal, Colina extended his point streak to six games; he has seven points (3-4-7) in thos six games. Maser’s second period assist was his first assist since December 30th. The Cougars are now 7-10-1-0 against the U.S. Division and their road record is now 6-15-2-2. Ethan Browne (illness), Nikita Krivokrasov (injury), and Marco Creta were scratched.
Next Up: The Cougars (16-28-3-4) return home for a pair of games against two Central Division foes on the Family Day long weekend. Prince George host the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday, February 15th and then the Red Deer Rebels on Monday, February 17th. Single game tickets start at just $13 and are available at the TicketsNorth box office, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca
Cougars – 1/4
Thunderbirds – 0/3
Cougars – 34
Thunderbirds – 36
Three Stars: 1) Roddy Ross 2) Kai Uchacz 3) Taylor Gauthier