“I definitely don’t have a ton of energy, but I think there’s still some left in the reserve tank right now.”
That’s from Prince George Cougars goaltender Taylor Gauthier, who knocked out the B.C. Division-leading Kamloops Blazers by stopping 48 of 51 shots last night (Nov. 23) en route to a 5-3 win at the CN Centre.
This weekend, the 18-year-old combined for 89 saves on 95 shots in the Cats’ first home doubleheader sweep since January and believes the Blazers could’ve kept him even more busy if it weren’t for his teammates’ defensive play.
“We’ve been blocking shots like crazy,” Gauthier said to PrinceGeorgeMatters following the 90s Night victory.
“You know, they could’ve easily had 70 shots tonight if the team didn’t get in front of those lanes and put their body on the line. Right from our defenceman to our forwards, we had good positional play in our zone all night and it’s just as much of a win for them as it is for me.”
Ain’t no thang, but a winning thang ✅ @PGCougars beat @blazerhockey on 90s Night by a score of 5-3, their first weekend home sweep since Jan. 11 & 12 against Kelowna. @tgoats_35 made 48 saves to combine for 89 saves this weekend | #CityOfPG @TheWHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/JMso7UvSux— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) November 24, 2019
The Calgary product saw several scrambles in front of his net from Kamloops as they continued to push the offense yesterday as they did on Friday (Nov. 22) in hopes of trying to equalize or pull ahead of Prince George, but they never had a lead in the doubleheader.
Amidst all the crease craziness, Gauthier was able to keep his composure, adding, with a slight chuckle, he just hopes the puck doesn’t sneak through him in those intense moments.
“I try to keep everything compact because I know if it’s low and close in the crease, they’re probably not going to be able to elevate it over me. So, that’s where my flexibility comes in; I kind of stretch it out across the crease and when I get the opportunity to cover it, I do my best to get on it.”
This was only Gauthier’s fourth win of the 2019-20 season in 19 starts, but it was his third on home ice and in front of the Cougars’ biggest crowd thus far at 3,847 people.
He explains feeding off the fans’ energy and enthusiasm is what helps him get into the groove and being rewarded with a victory is unlike anything else.
“There’s nothing better than that at the end of a game when you’re celebrating and the crowd’s going nuts, so I just wanted to hear it,” said Gauthier, who waves to the crowd and encourages fans to get louder after each win.
“There’s [also] nothing better than coming into the room after a hard-fought win. You’re with all the guys, you’re listening to music and you’re just hanging out; that’s my favourite thing about winning and about hockey even. Being able to hang out with the guys and just be happy, that’s a really big motivating factor for me.”
Prince George Captain Josh Maser and Mitch Kohner had two-point performances, each nabbing a goal and an assist.
Tyson Upper, Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Ethan Browne were the other goal-scorers.
The Cougars now have a week off before they face-off in Kelowna on Nov. 30.
“We’ll get a good day of rest and then right back to work on Monday (Nov. 25),” said Gauthier.
“We’ll work hard in practice and get a good work out in to get ready for Kelowna next because we know that’s going to be a tough game next weekend.”
Prince George will be back at home on Dec. 3 and 4 when they host the Portland Winterhawks.