When your on a roll nothing can faze you not even a couple of bad-luck goals.
The Prince George Cougars received a couple of lucky goals Friday at CN Centre but the red-hot Kelowna Rockets skated away with the 4-2 win in front of 1,691 Western Hockey League fans.
It was the Cougars (12-21-1-4) fourth straight loss and the fifth straight win for the Rockets (28-10-1-1) who moved into the eighth slot in the Canadian Hockey League top 10 rankings this week.
Both Cougars goals went in off Rockets players but the unlucky breaks didnt take the fuel out of the visitors.
The Cougars outplayed the Rockets in the opening period but couldnt beat Kelowna goalie Jordan Cooke, who stopped Troy Bourke early and then shut the door on Jake Mykitiuk twice before affiliate player Brad Morrison - in his fifth game for the short-staffed Cats - put the rebound over the net as the Cougars out shot the Rockets 10-4. Cooke robbed Mykitiuk again in the second period. But by the final period the Rockets took control to protect their 3-2 lead. The Cougars held a slim 28-27 advantage on the shot clock.
After a scoreless, penalty-free first period the teams put the scorekeepers to work in the middle frame scoring a combined five goals and taking a combined four penalties as the Rockets took a 3-2 advantage into the final 20 minutes.
The Cougars took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 but the Rockets rallied to tie the game each time before grabbing their first lead with 48 seconds remaining in the period. Ryan Hanes (5) and Caleb Belter (5) were credited with the Cougars goals that went in off Rockets players MacKenzie Johnston and Severson and behind goalie Jordan Cooke.
Kelowna goals were off the sticks of Colton Sissons (13), Myles Bell (25) and Zach Franko (16). The 19-year-old Franko also had two assists.
The goal by Belter was the second shorthanded marker the Cougars have scored this season. Both teams failed to score on the power play with the Rockets having two and the Cougars three chances.
Cody Fowlie ensured the win for the Rockets late in the third period when he fought off a Cougar and beat Engel for the 4-2 advantage.
Hot trio cooled
The Cougars line of Troy Bourke, Chase Witala and Colin Jacobs entered the game against the Rockets with a couple of point streaks going.
Since returning to the Cats lineup Dec. 4 against Moose Jaw Bourke has been one of the hottest Cougars and was on a five-game points streak (two goals, seven assists). The 18-year-old missed six games in November with a shoulder injury but recorded 11 points in 10 games in December.
Earlier this week, Bourke said he would like to have a second half similar to last season.
It seems like every year my first half is always a struggle, said Bourke. I dont know why. I work hard in the summertime and get my conditioning up. Im looking forward to the second half, the legs are feeling good and the bodys feeling good. Im pretty excited. Shoulders good.
It helps to have good linemates and, Bourke said its fun to play with Witala and Jacobs. The 17-year-old Witala was hobbled by various injuries and some inconsistent play in the first half but had nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last six games.
Hes not the biggest guy but hes got a tremendous amount of skill and he helps me out on the ice when Im making plays hes always there, said Bourke. Hes eager to get the puck and eager to put it in the net. Hes one of those guys that its easy to play with and easy to get points with.
The third member of the line, Jacobs had posted three goals and seven points in his past five games.
Cougars head coach Dean Clark said its good to see the trio finding the net but added hed like to see them improve their defensive game.
We have to work harder to keep the puck out of our own net, said Clark.
After Jacobs missed a chance to give the Cats a 2-0 lead Friday, the trio were victimized on the other end when Sissons was allowed a free pass in front of the net to tie the game.
Notes: Nathan Warren of the Cariboo Cougars served as an emergency backup for Cougars goalie Mac Engel as Brett Zarowny is battling a flu bug. The Cougars were also without: defencemen Dallas Ehrhardt (shoulder), Rinalds Rosinskis (world juniors with Latvia), Joseph Carvalho (MCL right knee), Raymond Grewal (minor concussion); and forwards Carson Bolduc (U17 tournament), Jari Erricson (concussion) and Jordan Tkatch (upper body). With the shortened defensive corps Sam Ruopp played in his third straight game for the Cats and first on home ice while 20-year-old left-winger Ryan Hanes stepped back to partner with Michael Mylchreest on occasion to give captain and 20-year-old Dan Gibb a few minutes of rest. Gibb took defensive shifts with Ruopp and Mylchreest. The Rockets and Cougars play the rematch tonight, 7 p.m. at CN Centre.