Taylor Gauthier stood his ground south of the border Friday night (Oct. 11), completing a very rare accomplishment for the Prince George Cougars.
For the first time in eight tries dating back to Mar. 11, 2017, the Cats were able to win a game in Spokane by earning a 3-1 victory and thanks to a 44-save performance by the 18-year-old netminder.
This is also Gauthier’s first win of the new season and it’s the second in a row for Prince George, coming six days after 16-year-old rookie Tyler Brennan made 26 saves in the Cougars’ 4-1 triumph over Kelowna on home ice.
Chiefs’ offence put Gauthier to work from start to finish, landing in double-digits for shots on goal in all three periods of play, including 10 in the first and 17 in the second.
However, P.G.'s undisputed number-one goaltender was especially sharp in the third period as Spokane put up 18 shots to Prince George’s two in hopes of coming back, even pulling Campbell Arnold for the final three minutes.
Josh Maser got things started for the visitors with his team-leading third goal of the season at just over two minutes to go in the opening frame.
This was the fourth time in five games the Cougars opened the scoring as the Houston, B.C. product took a pass from Matej Toman while skating up the middle of the offensive zone and beat Arnold glove side.
Reid Perepeluk was credited with the second helper on Maser’s opener.
Spokane made things interesting by bringing the contest to a 1-1 tie just 88 seconds into the second period, but that’s the only puck they got past Gauthier before the final buzzer.
The Cougars’ game-winning and insurance markers, both coming in the same second stanza, were made possible by the skills of some up-and-coming talent within the organization.
Connor Bowie got his first goal of the 2019-20 campaign at the 3:50 mark, capitalizing on a Cougars’ three-on-one chase into Chiefs’ territory after getting helpers from Craig Armstrong and Blake Eastman.
The assist by Eastman was his first career Western Hockey League (WHL) point.
Prince George’s final tally was certainly a beauty from Mitch Kohner.
The 17-year-old’s second of the year started by grabbing a loose biscuit at centre ice and carrying it in himself to the right face-off circle, then fired a slapper that even swept him off his feet while watching the puck fly between the crossbar and Arnold’s shoulder.
A scoreless third period, and 18 saves from Gauthier, sealed the Cougars’ 3-1 win over the Chiefs and improve their record to 2-4-0-1 for fourth place in the B.C. Division.
This completes the first of four meetings between Prince George and Spokane with the second and third tilts taking place on home ice at the CN Centre next weekend, Oct. 18 and 19.
For now, the Cougars are eyeing a third straight win before feasting on Thanksgiving turkey as they face the Tri-City Americans tonight (Oct. 12), 7 p.m. from Kennewick, Washington.