It wasn’t the way the Prince George Cougars were hoping to end the 2018-19 campaign.
The Kamloops Blazers took advantage of a costly Cougar mistake in the third period while shorthanded, scoring two goals in two minutes to secure a 4-2 victory and handing the home team a loss in the regular-season finale at the CN Centre Saturday night (March 16).
.@PGCougars end 2018-19 season with a 4-2 loss to Kamloops on #FanAppreciationNight! @vlad_mikh & @cmobes23 with the goals; team sends off graduating players Mike MacLean, Joel Lakusta, & Captain Josh Curtis with 3-star nods 👏 | #CityOfPG @TheWHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/xzpenR04aZ— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) March 17, 2019
In the end, the 5,178-strong saluted the team and its graduating players, Josh Curtis, Joel Lakusta, and Mike MacLean.
The Cougars conclude the year winning two of the final three games.
Taylor Gauthier stopped 21 of 24 shots he faced in Prince George’s 41st loss of the year, while 16-year-old Dylan Garand played tremendously for the Blazers in making 29 saves on 31 attempts.
The scoring didn’t start until the second period; Kamloops lit the first lamp at the 8:48 mark, but Vladislav Mikhalchuk would bring the game back to par at 1-1 with his 25th of the season.
Prince George would enjoy a brief 2-1 advantage in the third period thanks to Cole Moberg while shorthanded on a floater over the head of Garand.
That lead lasted for only 15 seconds when Jermaine Loewen nabbed his first of two goals in the home-and-home doubleheader.
The Dallas Stars draft pick potted an empty-netter with 49 seconds left in regulation after Connor Zary made it 3-2 almost two whole minutes earlier while down one man.
The Prince George Cougars end their 25th franchise season with a record of 19-41-5-3 for fifth place in the B.C. Division, last-place in the Western Conference, and 19th in the overall Western Hockey League (WHL) standings.
Curtis, Lakusta, and MacLean were given the three-star nods as a thank you from the Cougars organization for the hard work and leadership they provided in the Prince George community.
They will be further recognized today (March 17) at the Prince George Civic Centre during the team’s fourth annual Awards Brunch.
A list of winners will be released afterwards.
Prince George will be looking towards the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, which takes place later this spring, and the Cougars are expected to have two of the top five first-round picks, thanks to a deal they made last season with the Swift Current Broncos.
For the Kamloops Blazers, they have to play a tiebreaker match Tuesday (March 19) against Kelowna after the Rockets defeated Vancouver in overtime Saturday.
Both teams finished with 64 points and the winner will claim third place in the B.C. Division and final spot in the playoffs.