Their late-season push for a playoff spot may have been dealt a death blow.
The Prince George Cougars lost a key game to the host Spokane Chiefs in Tuesday night Western Hockey League action. The Cats, who were trying to close to within two points of the eighth-place Everett Silvertips, fell 6-4 to the Chiefs. With the result, the Cougars remained four points back of Everett and used up their game in hand. Both clubs now have three games left to play.
The Cats will have their work cut out for them as they try to accumulate points this week. They'll visit the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday and then end their regular schedule with a home-and-home series against the Kamloops Blazers -- Friday in Kamloops and Saturday in Prince George. Currently, the Rockets and Blazers sit second and third respectively in the Western Conference.
The Chiefs, battling the Tri-City Americans for fourth in the conference, scored the first five goals on Tuesday before the Cougars stormed back with third-period markers by Troy Bourke, captain Dan Gibb (2) and Zach Pochiro. The valiant comeback effort by the Cats was snuffed out when Alessio Bertaggia hit an empty-net on an odd-man rush at 18:07.
Spokane got first-period goals from Adam Helewka, Todd Fiddler and Markson Bechtold and extended its lead in the second period when Mitch Holmberg knocked home the rebound of a Brenden Kichton shot. The Chiefs moved ahead 5-0 on a Mike Aviani goal early in the third. Bourke started the Prince George scoring binge at the 9:57 mark.
Goaltender Mac Engel started the game for the Cats and was replaced by Brett Zarowny after the fourth Spokane goal. Eric Williams went the distance for the Chiefs, who outshot the visitors 41-39.
The Chiefs improved to 42-25-2-0 and the Cougars dropped to 21-40-2-6.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Thunderbirds clinched a playoff spot when they beat the Americans 8-3 on Tuesday night.