It was a beauty start for the Prince George Cougars Friday night (March 8), but not so much in the final 20 minutes.
The Cats enjoyed a 2-0 lead until the Portland managed to complete a comeback, handing the home team a 3-2 loss.
The Winterhawks’ power-play unit scored all three goals for the visitors from the final five minutes of the middle frame to five minutes left in regulation after Prince George took some critical penalties.
"We probably played our best game all year long," said General Manager and Interim Head Coach Mark Lamb in a news release, "But when you take penalties in the offensive zone, make those type of mental mistakes, against a really good team, that’s going to happen. It hurts. All the losses hurt, and these lessons are hard. But the penalties they scored on are ones we can’t take, especially the two in the offensive zone."
Heckuva effort but penalties prove costly. pic.twitter.com/v1JmWWLBh7— PG Cougars (@PGCougars) March 9, 2019
Cougars goaltender Taylor ‘Goat’ Gauthier had to make some near-miraculous saves and looked good while doing it in his Don Cherry-inspired sweater for WHL Suits Up Night to keep his team in the contest, stopping 24 of 27 shots altogether.
On the other side, Joel Hofer showed up in the second half after Prince George came firing on all cylinders, completing a 40-save performance and handing the Cougars their 40th loss of the year.
Defenceman Cole ‘Moe’ Moberg got things going last in the first in his return from injury to the CN Centre, slapping a one-timer from the blue-line while on the man-advantage to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Ryan ‘Shots’ Schoettler and Tyson ‘Up-Dawg’ Upper provided the assists.
Czech Republic-import Matej ‘Tomič’ Toman got the Cats up 2-0 off a steal in the offensive zone by Josh ‘Moose’ Maser two-and-a-half minutes into the second period.
Portland cut the lead in half 2-1 before the end of the middle frame while on a power-play and the special teams would pot two more in the third to seal the 3-2 comeback win.
Prince George has now lost 13 consecutive home games; the last victory at the CN Centre occurred on Jan. 12 against Kelowna.
Their record drops to 17-40-5-3 and will finish in last place in the B.C. Division and the WHL Western Conference this season.
The players’ Don Cherry jerseys from last night, which included their nicknames on the back (listed in the above story with quotations), are being auctioned off in support of organ donation.