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Prince George Cougars’ Taylor Gauthier fends off Giants for first shutout of the season

Josh Maser scores two in 3-0 win over Vancouver
Cougars-Giants-Gauthier 2019 road Rik Fedyck
Prince George Cougars' Taylor Gauthier gets ready to make a save against the Vancouver Giants while on the road (via Rik Fedyck)

The Prince George Cougars can celebrate the holidays with tidings of comfort and joy after shutting out a big B.C. Division rival.

Taylor Gauthier turned away all 32 shots he faced between the pipes in earning his first clean sheet of the 2019-20 season after 26 starts for the 3-0 triumph over the Vancouver Giants while on the road at the Langley Events Centre.

This was only Gauthier’s fourth shutout of his Western Hockey League (WHL) career thus far after posting three last year.

Captain Josh Maser also had himself a two-goal game in the midst of a strong special teams performance by the Cats.

In fact, they went 50 per cent against the Giants converting all three markers on six power-play opportunities Tuesday night (Dec. 17).

The first period went scoreless and was almost the same in the second.

That is, until Rhett Rhinehart fired a rocket from his left wing with less than two ticks left in the middle frame to break the goose eggs and carry a 1-0 lead into the locker room.

Rhinehart’s third of the year came from a pass from Ilijah Colina, nabbing his third point in two games, and a secondary assist was awarded to Jack Sander after his initial shot from the point was blocked up the middle.

Maser followed up with his team-leading 14th and 15th of the season in a span of 6:19 in the latter-half of the third period.

The Houston, B.C. product first capitalized on a two-man advantage by tipping a quick pass from Ethan Browne in front of Giants’ goaltender Trent Miner for the 2-0 lead.

Chicago Blackhawks 2019 draft pick Cole Moberg got the second helper after starting the scoring play from the top of the zone.

Then, with the Vancouver cage empty on another power-play, Maser’s second of the night was set up by Ryan Schoettler after intercepting a bouncing puck in his own end.

Prince George’s 3-0 win increases their streak to two games, earning five of six possible points in their last three contests before the nine-day break.

It’s also the first road win for the Cougars since Oct. 27 when they stole a 3-2 overtime victory also in Langley against the Giants.

In the last 10 tilts, they’re 500 with a 4-4-1-1 record; overall, in the B.C. Division, they’re 8-20-1-3.

The Cougars will be back on the road Dec. 27 and 28 in Everett and Victoria respectively.