It didn't matter that Ty Edmonds' best save came when it was too late for the Kamloops Blazers to mount a comeback, even if he hadn't kicked his feet out to the opposite side of the crease to snatch a sure-goal away from Tristan Seiben.
With eight seconds left on the clock and a two-goal lead, the 17-year-old Prince George Cougars goalie knew by then his perfect record as a Western Hockey League puckstopper would remain intact. On a Saturday night at CN Centre when almost everything went right for the Cougars, Edmonds left a lasting memory with his superb stop that capped a 3-1 win.
"It was pretty incredible, they just passed it across and in desperation I brought the left leg around and did whatever I could to keep it out, I wanted to keep it a 3-1 game and win the game for our team," said Edmonds, who stopped 26 or 27 shots.
The rookie from Winnipeg looked cucumber-calm most of the night, covered his angles, and gave up very few rebounds. He now has three wins in three games in his career as a Cougar dating back to Feb. 8 last season when he defeated the Vancouver Giants in a relief role. In his only other start this season, Edmonds allowed just one goal in a 2-1 win over the Tri-City Americans.
"I just thought the whole team contributed to the win tonight, it wasn't just myself," said Edmonds. "Our best players were our best players and that was one of our best team games of the season."
The Cougars veterans met amongst themselves Saturday morning to discuss what went wrong in Friday's home-opener, a 5-2 loss to the Blazers, and how they planned to atone for their mistakes. Whatever was said at that meeting, it had the desired effect.
"There's a new attitude and lots of hype on us to see the new Cougar team and [Friday's game] was kind of sloppy, we got a couple bad breaks and it didn't go our way and so we wanted to come tonight and show that those rumours are true and that we are a good team," said 18-year-old centre Jordan Tkatch. "It's got to start with us older guys. Once we do it, the younger guys will do it, and it showed on the ice tonight."
Alex Forsberg, Brad Morrison and Troy Bourke, all with singles, sparked the Cougars' offence as they earned the weekend split to improve to 2-3-0-0. Josh Connolly was the lone goalscorer for the Blazers (1-3-0-0).
The degree of improvement in the Cougars from Friday to Saturday was striking. Everything, from goaltending to special teams to the quality and quantity of their scoring chances, was better for the Cats. They blocked shots, they backchecked, and they didn't take stupid penalties.
About the only negative from one night to the next from a Prince George perspective was the crowd count, which dipped from 2,663 on Friday to 1,688. That had to be a source of disappointment to the Cougars, who deserved better while they were pouring heat to the Blazers.
Ranked last in the 22-team WHL in power-play success heading into Saturday's game and stumbling at an miserable 8.3 per cent clip with only two goals in 23 chances, the Cougars finally clicked with the man advantage and it was a thing of beauty. Bourke got to his own rebound close to Kozun, spun and fired an ice-hugger into the net just 10 seconds into the second period to make it 3-0.
The Blazers finally got one past Edmonds with 6:02 gone in the second. Connolly was in the right place at the right time to blast in a fat rebound from the right face-off circle, the second goal and fourth point of the weekend for the 18-year-old from Prince George.
The Cats led 2-0 after one. Forsberg collected his first goal of the season to get the Cats going 3:38 into the game and Morrison followed up with the second of his rookie campaign.
The Kamloops penalty killers were good all night, preventing what could easily have been a blowout. Kozun bailed out his teammates for the second straight game as the Blazers were outshot 46-27. The Cougars went 1-for-6 on the power play, including a five-minute advantage in the third period when Cole Ully was ejected for his hit from behind that left Cats defenceman Sam Ruopp bleeding from his face. The Cougars were perfect in four penalty kills, the first time in five games they haven't given up a power-play goal. Their kill rate was 56 per cent after Friday's game, second-worst in the league.
"I liked 40 minutes last night, but we were not happy with the third [period], and I thought we were a lot better today, we were very unselfish," said Cougars head coach Mark Holick. "You've got to give their goaltender some credit, we threw another 40-some shots at him again and he gave them a chance, so I'm happy with our effort. We were very disciplined, way better with our D-zone coverage and when we broke down, Ty was there."
Last year the Cougars won just one of eight games with the Blazers. The teams will meet 10 times this season, including this Friday's game in Kamloops. Connolly, whose 21-year-old brother Brett plays in the NHL for the Tampa Bay Lightning, loves playing in his hometown but he knows it's not going to be easy taking points away from the Cougars.
"They're going to have a good team this year, they're older this year and they have a lot of young guys from last year who are older now and that will help them as well," said Connolly. "They're a hard-working team."