There was something different in Taylor Gauthier last night (March 4).
Whether it was the new goaltending pads or the fact it was Wednesday, he successfully weathered the Lethbridge storm for the Prince George Cougars en route to his second shut out of the season, the fifth of his Western Hockey League (WHL) career, beating the Hurricanes by a score of 2-0.
The 19-year-old stopped all 37 shots from the second-ranked team in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, putting up double-digit saves in each period and standing tall on all five Lethbridge power-plays.
This was also the first time this year the 'Canes were held of the board.
Gauthier’s 14th win lifts Prince George to an 18-34-4-4 record and 44 points, putting them nine points back of Seattle for the final wild-card spot in the playoffs.
Mathematically speaking, the Cats are still in the hunt, but, in order to advance to the postseason, they must win at least five of the last eight games on the 2019-20 schedule and hope the Thunderbirds lose next-to-all of their remaining contests.
Mitch Kohner got himself on the scoresheet for the first time in nine tilts, breaking the goose eggs to give Prince George a 1-0 lead 2:36 into the second period.
The Minnesota product tipped in his eighth of the year on a pass in front from Filip Koffer and over the left shoulder of 'Canes netminder Bryan Thomson; Jack Sander was given the secondary assist.
Thanks to Gauthier’s stellar play between the pipes, the Cougars were able to hold onto their one-goal lead through until the final 38 seconds of regulation.
After Lethbridge took a penalty within the last three minutes and pulled Thomson to make it five-on-five, Ethan Browne intercepted a pass and carried the puck up ice.
He gave the empty-net opportunity to linemate Vladislav Mikhalchuk for his 12th goal of the season and seal the 2-0 win in front of 1,967 fans at the CN Centre.
This snaps a four-game losing streak for the Cats.
Prince George will host the Vancouver Giants Friday (March 6) and Saturday (March 7) to close out the home portion of the schedule.
Puck drop is 7 p.m. both days, with Saturday’s contest being Fan Appreciation Night.