In the end the Prince George Cougars probably deserved a better fate.
The Cougars tied Saturday's game with 96 seconds remaining in regulation but couldn't solve Victoria Royals 18-year-old goaltender Patrik Polivka again as the visitors to CN Centre salvaged a weekend split with a 2-1 win in a shootout.
Alex Gogolev gave the Royals a 1-0 advantage early in the second period of the Western Hockey League game and then was the only shooter to score in the shootout when he beat Cougars goalie Mac Engel.
The Cougars out shot the Royals 39-29 in front of an announced crowd of 1,647.
The shootout loss leaves Cougars head coach Mark Holick with a 1-3-0-1 record since replacing Dean Clark behind the team's bench.
"I thought maybe we deserved a little better," said Holick. "I thought that maybe that push in the third that we had was maybe enough."
Prince George dominated the third period but couldn't solve Polivka until defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt scored his second goal of the weekend to tie the game at 1-1 to force overtime and a shootout. The Cougars out shot the Royals 13-5 in the final regulation period.
After the Royals took the 1-0 lead the momentum switched in favour of the Cougars midway through the second frame, including about a 90-second period where the Cats played keep away with the puck in the Royals' end but couldn't beat Polivka.
The penalty kill was a highlight for the Cougars this weekend, including in Friday's 6-2 win over the Royals, as they stymied the visitors' power play on eight of nine chances. The Cats' power play on the other hand continued to struggle going a combined 0 for 9.
Holick said the power play will be addressed in practice this week, adding that after only two practices and six games since he was hired there hasn't been a lot of time to work on things in the last week and a half.
"We'll be able to work on finding some sort of structure on the power play," said Holick. "The power play is not very difficult you want to make sure you get pucks and traffic to the net. I thought we did that but we've just got to find a way to score."
Another thing the Cougars may work on is practicing the shootout as Zach Pochiro, Troy Bourke, Colin Jacobs and Caleb Belter were all unable to find the net in the skills competition for a variety of reasons, including shooting wide, waiting too long and losing the puck.
In addition to scoring the Cougars only goal Saturday, Ehrhardt had a three-point night on Friday and has given Holick reason to smile, though the coach pointed out the 20-year-old can still improve his game.
"He had a pretty good weekend but I'd like to see him play with a little bit more urgency and be a little bit faster in making those decisions," said Holick. "The tools are there and he's certainly a big guy with a heavy shot but he's got to make sure he uses it consistently."
Despite earning a point Saturday the Cougars (16-30-2-5) remained four points in arrears of the eighth-place Seattle Thunderbirds (19-29-4-1) for the final playoff spot in the western conference as the T-birds also gained a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tri City Americans.
The Cougars are back in action Wednesday when they host the Red Deer Rebels (27-21-4-2) at CN Centre, 7 p.m.