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‘That’s a lot of confidence’: Connor Bowie breaks Blazers twice to end Prince George Cougars’ losing streak

Fort St. John product says it’s not healthy to dwell on negatives in locker-room

At long last, in yet another close one-goal contest, the ice tipped in favour of the Prince George Cougars.

The Cats came clawing out early, pushed through on offense, stood strong on special teams, including a double-minor late in the third period, and emerged victorious for the first time in eight games, nabbing a 4-3 win against division-rival Kamloops Friday night (Nov. 22).

Connor Bowie was one of the players that stood out on the home side at the CN Centre.

The 18-year-old recorded his first multi-goal night in the Western Hockey League (WHL), scoring two that included the game-winner halfway through the final frame.

“All the boys are just really excited right now, especially against a team like Kamloops,” Bowie said in an interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters as the Blazers sit atop the B.C. Division standings and went into yesterday’s tilt with one of the best power-play regiments in the league and were stymied by the Cats on all six occasions.

“Everybody knows how good they are this year, so to put a win together like that going into tomorrow, that’s a lot of confidence for everybody.”

The Cougars have now been involved in six one-goal decisions in their last seven tilts and while five saw them venture to the loss column, Bowie believes the attitude among the boys in red has been very upbeat.

He credits General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb and Associate Coach Jason Smith on creating that new culture during this 2019-20 season thus far.

“[They] just talked about how we have such a positive dressing room because we’ve put together so many good games that we’ve lost by just one,” he explained. 

“They’ve really just helped us stay positive, not get negative and have us keep coming in and working as hard as we can every day. So to have those two guys pushing us has really kept us going.”

Bowie says he’s privileged to play hockey just a five-hour drive from his hometown of Fort St. John as playing before family is an extra special feeling.

“I definitely enjoy playing in Prince George because its so close to home. I’ve got buddies, family and everybody comes to watch when we have Friday-Saturday nights here. It’s just really special to me.”

Taylor Gauthier, to no surprise of the more than 2,200 people, amassed a third 40-plus save performance this year, a second straight time against the Blazers, stopping 41 of 44 shots to earn the game’s first-star honours.

This was the goaltender’s third win in 18 starts this season and had to stay on his tip-toes in the final 98 seconds when Kamloops sent out an extra attacker.

He was extra busy in the first and third periods when he faced 15 shots each time.

Prince George got on the board first thanks to Josh Maser, putting home a rebound for the Cougars’ first power-play goal since Nov. 6 against Medicine Hat.

Bowie followed the leader of the Cats 33 seconds later on a two-on-one for a 2-0 lead.

Kamloops came running back to tie the game 2-2 with two goals in just over five minutes, but Prince George took back the one-goal advantage with 33 seconds to go in the first.

After taking passes from Jack Sander and Ilijah Colina, Rhett Rhinehart rounded the Blazers’ net to beat Rayce Ramsay far side and take the 3-2 lead into the intermission.

The lone marker in the second period belonged to Kamloops at 11:40 to stay in the contest.

The 3-3 tie stood for almost a full period until Bowie picked up a loose puck, carried it himself all the way down the ice on an odd-man rush and, from the exact same spot, fired the puck short-side to give his club the advantage.

Maser took a double-minor for high-sticking with over five minutes to go, but Prince George’s special teams prevented the Blazers from evening the score once again, resulting in a 4-3 victory and a first win in their own barn since Oct. 18.

The victory is the Cougars’ fifth of the season, upping their record to 5-16-0-2.

They close out a three-game homestand today (Nov. 23), 7 p.m. from the CN Centre against Kamloops once again on 90s Night.