Ty Young raised his game to a new level but it wasn’t enough to deliver the Prince George Cougars to the promised land.
Despite stopping 45 of 48 shots that came off the sticks of the Kamloops Blazer, the 17-year-old goalie was unable to avoid a 3-2 loss to the BV.C. Division-leading Blazers, whose revived efforts in the third period doomed the Cats to their second loss of the weekend.
Connor Levis and Luke Toporowski scored goals 38 seconds apart early in the third period to wipe out the Cougars lead and gain the upper hand against a depleted opponent. The Cougars had just 15 skaters to start the game and lost one of them when 20-year-old defenceman Jonas Brondberg left the game early in the first period with an unspecified injury and did not return.
Cougar-killer Matthew Seminoff got the Blazers started when he scored, 5:09 into the game, one of the many first-period saves Young was forced to make while his team was outshot 18-2. A Prince George power play that carried over into the second period led to the tying goal. Defenceman Ethan Samson held the puck in at the blueline and blasted a shot that got through Kamloops goalie Dylan Garand, 49 seconds into the period.
The Cougars, who lost 5-1 to the Blazers Friday at CN Centre, grabbed their only lead of the weekend late in the second period. Cayden Glover, a just-turned 18-year-old left winger who joined the Cougars late in December in a trade from the Medicine Hat Tigers, collected his first point as a Cougar. The Brandon, Man., native batted in a centring pass from Koehn Ziemmer for his fourth goal of the season, after Riley Heidt won the draw in the Kamloops end.
With so many players unavailable, either due to injuries or COVID protocols, the Cougars enlisted the help of 15-year-old affiliated forward Hunter Laing, their second-round, 23rd overall pick in the 2021 WHL draft. Laing, a six-foot-six, 190-pound native of Kelowna, who has 14 goals and 28 points n 19 games with the Rink Academy U-16s, made his WHL debut Saturday and nearly picked up his first souvenir puck with six minutes left in the second period. Linemate Craig Armstrong sprung Laing free with the puck in behind enemy lines and he tested Garand, who came up with a big save.
The Blazers outshot Prince George 48-25. It was Young’s seventh game this season and 10th of his WHL career and he was the reason it remained a one-goal game. The Coaldale, Alta., native was selected the game’s second star.
The Cougars’ record dropped to 17-19-1-1. Kamloops improved to 24-11-1-0.
The Cougars will be back to practice at home this week until they leave for a six-game roadtrip which opens Friday in Portland against Taylor Gauthier and the Portland Winterhawks.