They were short on manpower but not on effort.
The injury-riddled Integris Credit Union Cougars, with just eight regular forwards in uniform, played two games on Friday, opening day of the Prince George Motors bantam Tier 2 minor hockey tournament. The Cats beat the Kitimat Lions 7-5 Friday morning at the Kin Centre and fell 6-5 to the Terrace Kermodes in the afternoon.
Against the Kermodes, the Cougars trailed 4-1 after the first period but scored three rapid-fire goals in the late stages of the second to pull into a 4-4 tie. In the final frame, they were down 6-4 with two minutes left on the clock and got a five-on-three power-play marker from Austin Heidt with 15 seconds to go. The Kermodes, however, killed the remaining time and left the ice with the narrow victory.
"That's a heartbreaker for all the boys because they put in a valiant effort," said Cougars head coach Budd Wasylyshen.
"We just ran out of clock. We're down a few players right now so we have a short bench and it cost us a little bit in our legs in the second game of the day. I think we surprised Terrace a little bit, actually."
Corbin Normand, Connor Johnson, Ryan Watson and Rob Raju had the other Prince George goals, while Devyn Wasylyshen was excellent between the pipes. In the game, he foiled Terrace shooters on four breakaway opportunities.
Raju, a 14-year-old forward who serves as team captain, was satisfied with his club's performance but would have liked a stronger third period.
"I think we played great but we didn't finish it off with 60 minutes," he said.
In the Cougars' win against Kitimat, Tyson Ghostkeeper -- with a hat trick -- was the big man on offence.
For the eight-team tournament, the Cougars are missing two of their hardest-working forwards, Tanner Riplinger and Logan Morris. Both are currently recovering from fractures suffered earlier this month. The team's second goaltender, Rylan Anderson, is also on the injured list.
The Cougars will play their final round-robin contest today at 10:15 a.m. against the Dawson Creek Canucks. The game is a must-win for the Cats if they want to qualify for the playoff semifinals, set for 6:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
This season, the Cougars have skated to a win and a tie against the Canucks.
"They're a well-rounded team and good competition for us," Budd Wasylyshen said. "We need to make sure we're first on the pucks and we have to take the wind out of their sails early."
On Friday morning, Terrace beat Dawson Creek 6-1.
Teams on the other side of the draw are Smithers, Quesnel, Williams Lake and Kamloops.
The championship game is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday at Kin 2.