After they choked in Edmonton, the Prince George Cougars were hoping a trip to Medicine Hat would leave a better taste in their mouths.
It didn't. Their 5-2 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers Wednesday night was a bitter pill to swallow for a team that's suddenly found it can't seem to win on the road.
The Tigers were at their opportunistic best in the second period, scoring three goals on the six shots they had the entire period on Cougars goalie James Priestner. Priestner made 16 saves in his 100th career WHL game, which came on the occasion of his 20th birthday.
Medicine Hat goalie Tyler Bunz was the game's first star as the Cats outshot the Tigers 43-20.
"The shot total was pretty indicative of how the play was," said Cougars head coach Dean Clark.
"I think we outplayed this team for the majority of the game, but their goaltending was better than ours, plain and simple.
"Certainly we need some saves in that situation to keep it close and it didn't happen."
The Tigers struck first with the only goal of the first period, a jam-in by Kellen Tochkin that got through a mob scene on Priestner's doorstop. Reid Petryk, Hunter Skinkaruk, and Dylan Busenius all connected for the Tigers in the middle frame to run the lead to 4-0.
Cougars rookie Wilson Dumais, with his first of the season, provided a bit of spark for the visitors early in the third period, and Brett Connolly finished off a breakaway setup from Taylor Stefishen for his 30th goal of the season, but it was far too little, too late. Wacey Hamilton added one more into an empty Cougars' net.
The Cougars won just one of seven road games in January and they've yet to gain a point in two games so far on their five-game, six-day tour of the Western Hockey League's Central Division. But on Wednesday it was not for a lack of trying.
"I'm very happy with the effort of our guys," added Clark. "They drew lots of penalties because of how hard they played. It's disappointing when you put that effort in and lose 5-2, it's just not justice for the guys.
"They wanted to make amends for what happened (Tuesday) night and it's too bad.".
The Cougars were hoping to erase memories of a 6-5 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings on the first game of their trip Tuesday in Edmonton. Prince George led that game 5-2 to start the third period, but surrendered the next four goals.
After a day off today in Medicine Hat, the Cougars travel to Lethbridge to play the Hurricanes on Friday. The trip wraps up with games Saturday in Calgary against the Hitmen and on Sunday in Reed Deer against the Central Division-leading Rebels.
The Cougars (26-25-2-1) still rank third in the B.C. Division, five points behind the Kelowna Rockets and eight behind the division-leading Vancouver Giants. The Rockets and Giants were idle on Wednesday.