On paper, the Spokane Chiefs showed how much they wanted to beat the Prince George Cougars after losing both prior meetings before Saturday night (Oct. 19).
The Cats were doubled up in shots on goal, 38-19, and, despite tying the contest in the third period, got schnitzelled out of Oktoberfest by a power-play goal against them and two empty-netters.
In the end, the 5-2 decision was handed to the men in lederhosen as the Chiefs split the weekend series 1-1 last night at the CN Centre.
Goaltender Taylor Gauthier was called to start between the pipes, his ninth in Prince George’s first 10 games of the 2019-20 season, and had to stay on his toes once again with 33 saves on 37 shots.
This included a first-period shutout, stopping all 20 attempts he faced to hang on to a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars only got six pucks towards Spokane’s cage, but got to open the scoring a second straight night as Josh Maser broke out on a partial breakaway into the Spokane’s end and fired the puck past Campbell Arnold.
The Houston, B.C. product’s team-leading fifth goal of the year came off passes from Mitch Kohner and Matej Toman exactly 14 minutes in.
As far as offense in the second period, it was fairly evenly matched with shots going 8-7 in favour of the visitors.
However, Spokane was able to find the back of the net twice in a span of 5:34, courtesy of Adam Beckman and Bear Hughes, and took a 2-1 lead into the dressing-room after 40.
There was some hope for Prince George when Brendan Boyle sneaked one on Arnold’s right side of the net to tie the contest 2-2, firing up the Oktoberfest crowd of over 3,000 fans with seven minutes left in regulation.
Assists were given to Connor Bowie and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Cole Moberg.
From there, the Chiefs kicked into a higher gear, converting on a Mitch Kohner slashing penalty to make it 3-2 and as Taylor Gauthier skated towards the bench to get a sixth skater out for the Cougars, Erik Atchison grabbed the puck at centre ice to push it the puck into the empty net.
Gauthier tried to skate back and stick out his paddle in an attempt to stop the goal, but didn’t slide over in time.
Prince George called a timeout and pulled Gauthier again for one last attempt at a comeback, but Spokane and Canadian World Junior defenceman Ty Smith scored a second empty-netter with 17 seconds remaining to seal the 5-2 victory.
This was the third meeting between these two franchises in eight days; their last tilt of the season series will be in Washington state on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Half the four-game homestand for Prince George is complete and will now prepare for a pair of mid-week match-ups.
The Swift Current Broncos, who currently sit second-to-last in the Western Hockey League (WHL), will take on the Cougars Tuesday (Oct. 22) at 7 p.m.
Prince George will then face Kelowna Rockets for a third time this month on Wednesday (Oct. 23), also at 7 p.m. from the CN Centre.
They’ll look to go up in the nine-game series with their B.C. Division rivals, which stands at 1-1.