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Cats spank Thunderbirds 8-1 in front of record CN Centre crowd

One Seattle shot denies Ravensbergen sole possession of WHL rookie shutout record

Josh Ravensbergen had the WHL record within reach.

The Seattle Thunderbirds were drawing a blank, trailing 8-0 with less than two minutes left in their Family Day matinee against the Prince George Cougars.

After standing guard in the crease for 58 minutes without allowing a goal, all the 17-year-old Cougars’ goalie needed was to keep that sheet clean the rest of the game and the rookie record for shutouts in one season was his to own alone.

Unfortunately for Ravensbergen and the Cougars and their fans who packed into CN Centre stands, Prince George native Nico Myatovic was there to play the role as the spoiler.

With three Cougars caught up ice, Myatovic made good on an odd-man rush up the left wing and fed the puck in the slot to linemate Braeden Cootes and his shot found the net with 1:52 left, denying the chance for Ravensbergen to add to his six-shutout total, a league record for freshmen he shares with several WHL netminders.

As much as he would have loved to get that record, the 8-1 win was the most important prize up for grabs and Ravensbergen improved his impressive rookie record to 20-4-0-1, stopping 25 of 26 Seattle shots. The native of North Vancouver is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2025.

That late goal was about the only glitch of the day for the Cougars, who spread the offence around to add to the T-birds’ misery. Fourteen Cougars got themselves on the scoresheet and Riley Heidt led the way with two goals and an assist.

Heidt scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season in a six-goal second period for Prince George.

Borya Valis and rookie Jett Lajoie each ended up with a goal and an assist.

Carlin Dezainde, Ondrej Becher and defencemen Bauer Dumanski and Hudson Thornton also scored. Viliam Kmec collected three assists.

The Cougars outshot Seattle 39-26. Scott Ratzlaff started in the Seattle nets and was replaced by Spencer Michnik after the Cougars made it 5-0 with their 23rd shot midway through the game.

The Cougars (37-15-0-3) can take over sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a win over the T-birds (19-32-2-0) in the rematch Tuesday at CN Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.

LOOSE PUCKS: Monday’s attendance was announced at 6,027. That tied the franchise record-high for the Cougars, set last year when Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats came to town Dec.2…. The Mega 50-50 draw grew exponentially during the game and one lucky ticket holder went home with $71,375. All proceeds of the draw will go to the BC Cancer Foundation… The game-worn pink and black jerseys for the Cougars Fight Cancer promotion are available for bid on the team website,… Myatovic returned to the lineup after missing two games under concussion protocol after taking a hit in a game Feb. 13 in Tri-City. The Anaheim prospect, drafted 33rd overall in 2023, was sidelined for 33 games at the start of the season when he suffered a broken leg celebrating the tying goal against Brandon Oct. 17.

Monday’s WHL summary

Thunderbirds 8 at Cougars 1

First Period

1. Prince George, Valis 19 (Heidt, Dumanski) 1:14

2. Prince George, Dumanski 7 (Lajoie) 10:18

Penalties -Thornton PG (interference) 15:28, Alarie Se (roughing), Dezainde PG (roughing) 16:29.

Second Period

3. Prince George, Dezainde 2- (Laing, Kmec) 5:44

4. Prince Geoge, Heidt 29 Funk, Becher) 8:53 (pp)

5. Prince George, Lajoie 3 (Kmec, Thornton) 10:31

6. Prince George, Becher 21 (McNutt) 11:17

7. Prince George, Heidt 30 (Valis, Kmec) 16:45

8. Prince George Thornton 13 (Parascak, Funk) 18:59 (pp)

Penalties – Boucher Sea (cross-checking) 4:15, Popovich Sea (hooking) 7:15, Hauf Sea (hooking) 17:58.

Third Period

9.  Seattle, Cootes 11 (Myatovic, Bouchr) 18:08

Penalties – Mynio Sea (slashing) 8:37.

Shots on goal by

Seatle    10           7             9             -26

Prince George    14           16           9             -39        

Goal – Seattle, Ratzlaff (L,14-22-1-0, 23-19 and, at 10:31 of second, Michnik (16-13); Prince George, Ravensbergen (W,20-4-0-1).

Power plays – SEA: 0-2; PG: 2-3.

Attendance – 6,027.