When is a shootout goal not counted?
Zach Pochiro is still looking for a satisfactory answer.
The Prince George Cougar forward successfully beat Austin Lotz with his shootout attempt Friday night at CN Centre and appeared to have tied the count after Austin Winquist had opened the shootout scoring. But a conference of the on-ice officials determined Lotz had knocked the net off its mooring as Pochiro skated in. Pochiro was told to redo it and was stuffed by Lotz.
The next Cougar shooter, Chase Witala, scored, but Carson Stadnyk ended it in the fifth round of the shootout with a five-hole deke on Ty Edmonds.
Final score: 3-2 Everett, and it was as close as the score would indicate. But still, it didnt sit well with the Cougars.
I didnt get a great explanation, other than the net was off and hes going to have to shoot again, said Cougars head coach Mark Holick. How the net came off, I dont know, I was just told we had to shoot again. I know a goal cant count when the net comes off.
Overtime settled nothing. The Silvertips has two great chances early in the extra session, shots from Jujhar Khaira and his linemate Tyler Sandhu that were turned aside by Edmonds. Klarc Wilson just about ended it for the Cougars with 12 seconds left in OT but was unable to poke the loose puck away from goalie Lotz.
Everetts a tough team and for us to go step for step with them should bode well for our confidence, said Holick, who coached his 250th career WHL game. The guys are upset and thats good, I like that. For us its growth, and sometimes growth is painful and at the end of the day thats a game we can use and hopefully continue with the traction we got so far.
The Cougars came out like dambusters in the first period, wanting to send a message to rest of the league that theyre good enough to beat anybody in the WHL and the Silvertips were a good gauge of that with five wins in their first seven games, having beaten Red Deer and Edmonton on the road earlier this week.
Witala staked the Cats to a 1-0 lead with 35 seconds left in the first period on a setup that had everything to do with Pochiros inside-outside undressing of defenceman Matt Pufahl in the Everett zone. Pochiros first shot was stopped by Lotz but he got his own rebound and it ticked into the net off Witalas stick.
Up to that point the Cats were doing everything right - stifling their opponents with blanket defensive zone coverage, blocking shots, and forcing Lotz into some tough saves.
The Silvertips reversed that trend in the second period and had a lot more success finding their intended targets with passes that led to scoring chances. They tied it up on a 5-on-3 power play midway through the second period. Marc McNulty took a double minor for high-sticking and the Cats were 34 seconds away from killing that four-minute session off when Pochiro tripped Sandhu deep in the Everett end. McNulty had eight seconds left to serve when Winquist, the Silvertips scoring leader, collected his seventh of the season on a one-timer.
That ended a string of 21 straight penalties killed off by the Cougars.
Pochiro answered back two minutes later, teaming up with linemate Alex Forsberg to cash in a centring feed that deflected off the skate of Everett defenceman Austin Adam. The announced crowd of 1,610 didnt have much time to celebrate the Cats regaining the lead when Matt Fonteyne won the face-off back to the point and Mirco Muellers quick release shot through a sea of legs found the net.
The Silvertips outshot the Cats 12-9 in the middle frame and kept the pressure on to start the third period. If not for Edmonds, who made at least four quality saves in the first five minutes of the third, the Silvertips would have been comfortably ahead.
The line of Pochiro-Forsberg-Witala was the best of the night for the guys in black in both ends of the rink and was rewarded with an abundance of chances with the game deadlocked. Hard work by Witala along the boards led to a turnover by Forsberg and his setup to Pochiro just missed with three minutes left in regulation time. The win improved the Silvertips record to 6-1-1-0, while the Cats are now 4-4-0-1.