Once again, the Prince George Cougars let their opponent get the jump on them. Once again, the Cats missed an opportunity to pick up two valuable points in their quest to qualify for the Western Hockey League playoffs.
Wednesday night in Kennewick, Wash., the Cougars dropped a 5-2 decision to the Tri-City Americans. The Ams scored the first three goals and never had their lead seriously threatened.
The scenario was similar to the events of a Tuesday game in Kent, Wash., where the Cougars fell behind 4-0 on the way to a 6-1 loss against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
In Wednesday's game, Jesse Mychan and Malte Stromwall scored first-period goals at 6:02 and 8:53 respectively and the Americans had the start they wanted.
Early in the middle frame, Michal Plutnar gave Tri-City a 3-0 cushion before Chase Witala gave the Cats some life with his 10th goal of the season at the 19:25 mark. On a power-play, Witala had the puck behind the net, faked one direction and then went the other for a wraparound marker against a surprised Luke Lee-Knight.
The Americans restored their three-goal lead 5:06 into the third period when Connor Rankin won a battle on the boards and centered the puck to Parker Bowles for the finish.
Witala, with his second goal of the night and third in two games, replied for the Cougars just 61 seconds later. Witala fired a wrist shot that went off Lee-Knight and into the Tri-City net.
The Cats were back into a 4-2 deficit but Rankin later completed the scoring for the Ams.
Goaltender Brett Zarowny started the game for the Cougars but was lost to an injury half way through the second period. Behind the play, Zarowny was knocked to the ice by Tri-City's Tyson Dallman and stayed down for several minutes before he was helped to the bench and then to the dressing room. Dallman was handed a major penalty for goaltender interference, as well as a fighting major and a game misconduct for an ensuing scrap with Dallas Ehrhardt of the Cougars.
Zarowny allowed three goals on 19 shots and was replaced by Mac Engel, who surrendered two on 13 shots.
The Cougars did outshoot the Americans, 44-32, including 23-8 in the second period.
The Cats (15-30-2-4) remained six points behind the eighth-place Thunderbirds, who hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have 21 regular-season games remaining. The Cougars now have a 1-3 record under new head coach Mark Holick.
The Americans bumped their record to 29-19-1-2.
The Cats won't have much time to rest, as they'll take on the Victoria Royals Friday and Saturday at CN Centre.