A new lethal combination terrorized the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night.
The trio of Brock Hirsche, Zach Pochiro and Caleb Belter contributed nine points for the Prince George Cougars in their 6-3 win over the Rockets in front of 1,907 spectators at CN Centre. With the win the Cougars (4-0-1) remain undefeated in Western Hockey League regulation time while the Rockets fell to 2-3-1.
Pochiro notched his first two WHL goals and added a pair of assists while Hirsche had two goals and one helper. Belter had two assists.
"He's like a little Energizer bunny out there," said Hirsche about Pochiro. "He's pretty quick and doesn't really stop and he's learning how to play systems really well."
It's the first time the trio have played together. The return of Chase Witala to the lineup meant a reshuffling of the lines, moving Hirsche with his new mates to make room for Witala to play alongside Colin Jacobs and Alex Forsberg.
"We hadn't played with each other before so we just wanted to be simple and it paid off for us," said Hirsche. "We thought their defencemen were a little bit young and inexperienced so if we could just keep it in their corners and be on the fore-check we'd have success."
The Cougars led 5-2 after the first period, chasing Jordan Cooke - who recorded his first WHL shutout Wednesday in a 7-0 pasting of the Vancouver Giants - from the net after making just nine saves.
But it was the Rockets who opened the scoring as Ryan Olsen beat Cougars goalie Brett Zarowny 90 seconds into the first period for the 1-0 lead. It didn't faze the Cats as Hirsche left the puck alone in the slot and Pochiro pounced tying the game at 1-1.
Cougars head coach Dean Clark said there's lots of ways the club can improve going forward.
"I think we were a little bit loose in the first 10 minutes," said Clark. "At times we were very, very good and at times we were a little sloppy but we've go room to improve for [Saturday]."
Jacobs scored his fifth goal of the season, a power-play marker setup by Troy Bourke and Jari Erricson to give the Cats a 2-1 lead but Colten Sissons tied the game shorthanded soon after.
Hirsche gave the Cougars a 4-2 lead with a pair of goals three minutes apart and Daulton Siwak potted his fourth goal of the season with 59 seconds remaining in Cooke's night.
"The thing with Hirsche is he's an honest player and he cares about the team," said Clark. "It's good to see him have some success he's had a tough go with his career."
Pochiro scored the lone goal of the second period as Kelowna's Jackson Whistle stopped 13 of 14 shots in relief.
After consecutive penalties to the Cougars to start the third period the Rockets cut their deficit to 6-3 as Olsen potted his second of the night.
Zarowny was solid in the Cougars' net making 25 saves for the win.
Notes: Jacobs extended his point streak to five games and leads the league with 10 points. The 19-year-old has 99 points in his WHL career. Rockets defenders Riley Stadel and Madison Bowey were -3. Cougars defenceman Dan Gibb will play in his 200th WHL game tonight against the Rockets at CN Centre, 7 p.m.
Friday, October 5, 2012
Kelowna Rockets 3 Prince George Cougars 6
1. Kelowna Ryan Olsen 2 (Nyberg, Franko) 1:30
2. Prince George Zack Pochiro 1 (Hirsche) 2:59
3. Prince George Colin Jacobs 5 (Bourke, Erricson) 8:43 pp
4. Kelowna Colton Sissons 3 13:28 sh
5. Prince George Brock Hirsche 2 (Belter, Pochiro) 14:42
6. Prince George Brock Hirsche 3 (Pochiro, Belter) 17:52
7. Prince George Daulton Siwak 4 (Bourke) 19:01
Penalties: Vasko KEL (holding) 7:47; Martin KEL (kneeing) 12:24.
8: Prince George Zach Pochiro 2 9:20
Penalties: Bowey KEL (tripping) 5:49; Rigby KEL (tripping) 10:06.
9. Kelowna Ryan Olsen 3 (Frando, Stadel) 5:20 pp
Penalties: Belter PG (roughing) 1:45; Bench minor PG (too many men, served by Mykitiuk) 4:43; Stadel KEL (fighting major, game misconduct), Bowey KEL (fighting major), Olsen KEL (charging), , Belter PG (fighting major, game misconduct) Pochiro PG (fighting major, instigating minor, game misconduct) 19:31.
Kelowna 7 13 10 30
Prince George 14 14 15 43
Goal: Kelowna Jordan Cooke (L 14-9), Jackson Whistle (start 2nd 29-28), Prince George Brett Zarowny (W 3-0-0)
Power play: Kelowna 1/2 Prince George 1/4
Referees:Tyler Adair, Jason Cramer, Korey Martens, Adam Hyatt