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Taylor Gauthier keeps Prince George in play, Cougars drop first road game in Victoria

Matej Toman opened the scoring in 2-1 loss to division-rival Royals

Taylor Gauthier looked more like his usual self between the pipes last night (Sept. 26).

The Cougars’ starting goaltender was up against a new and improved Victoria Royals hockey club and faced 35 shots from them, including a game-high 14 in the third period, forcing the 18-year-old to stand on his head to keep him alive in the contest.

In the end, the Royals prevailed in their home-opener in a close 2-1 decision and with Gauthier stopping a season-best 33 thus far.

He was named the third star for his efforts despite the loss.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes of play, it was Prince George lighting the lamp in their first road game of the season with all three contributing players hitting significant milestones at once.

Sophomore import Matej Toman potted his 10th Western Hockey League (WHL) goal at the 5:40 mark of the second period, deflecting a wrist shot from the blue-line and over the glove of Victoria netminder Shane Farkas.

A pair of defencemen provided the assists, including Ryan Schoettler, who played in his 200th WHL game Friday, and Rhett Rhinehart, who notched his 30th career WHL point.

The lead would only last under eight minutes when Victoria evened the score at 1-1.

Gauthier kept it that way for the remainder of the frame, stopping 12 of 13 shots in the middle frame.

The Royals eventually broke the stalemate five minutes into the third and held off pressure from the Cougars after Gauthier was pulled with 68 seconds left.

Both teams had perfect penalty killing on the evening, going three-for-three (3/3) at either side of the rink.

Prince George is now 0-3 to start the 2019-20 season and will wrap-up the weekend with another Victoria contest.

The Cougars and Royals face-off at 7:05 p.m.