A bony skeleton who hitched a ride on the back of the Zamboni Wednesday night at CN Centre symbolized the problem the Prince George Cougars had in their game with the Vancouver Giants.
Too many passengers. Not enough meat-and-potatoes grit in a grinding pre-Halloween horror show that had no flow and was brutal to watch.
The Cougars looked disorganized, afraid to make mistakes, couldnt put passes together and failed to show much second effort when their original plans crumbled. The Giants, thanks to Dalton Throwers slapshot 3:13 into overtime, ended the misery in a 3-2 win as the Giants completed a two-game sweep of the Cougars.
The Giants went out of their way to make life miserable for their WHL B.C. Division rivals. They played the perfect boring road game, outskating, outworking and outmuscling the host team.
Regardless of which team they were cheering for, it wasnt pretty to watch for the 1,289 in attendance.
David Soltes provided some saving grace for the Cougars (7-8-1-2), tying the game with 24 seconds left to guarantee a point, but it wasnt nearly enough to take away that sour taste of defeat.
With the win, the Giants improved to 6-9-1-1, just three points behind the Cougars. Vancouver won Tuesdays game 6-5, a score that clearly flattered the Cougars.
Jared Rathjen made 34 saves in his homecoming as the Giants were outshot 26-25.
After drawing blanks on two consecutive power plays, the Cougars drew first blood with a point shot from rookie Sam Ruopp, the first goal of his WHL career. The puck appeared to dip before it got to Rathjen, a Prince George minor hockey product who, like Cougar goalie Brett Zarowny, was looking for his first win of the season.
Trent Lofthouse tied it up after the Giants won the face-off deep in Cougar territory. Lofthouse gained the puck and was able to step around a Cougars defenceman to pick the low corner on Zarowny.
The teams deadlocked to start the second period and Zarowny bailed the Cats out in a big way as the Giants came close to notching their second shorthanded goal in as many nights.
Dalton Seward was sprung on a breakaway and Zarowny was able to squeeze his legs together in time to make the stop. The Giants got two more shots on net before the Cougars power play got close to setting up shop in the other end. The Cougars have allowed a WHL-worst six shorthanded goals this season; the power play is sputtering at a woeful 13 per cent success rate.
The Giants kept the pressure on in a dominant second period and had a two-man power play for 1:21 but were unable to put the go-ahead goal past Zarowny. That came a few minutes later with the teams at even strength when Jackson Houck banged one in from the face-off circle off defenceman Marc McNulty - Houcks fourth goal of the two-game series.
The Cougars host the Kelowna Rockets (9-2-0-2) in their next two games this Friday and Saturday.