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Giants pounce on Cougar mistakes

Cats' youthful lineup on defence exposed in Friday's road loss to BC Division rivals
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The Prince George Cougars didn’t have much fun Friday night in the land of the Giants.

They were chasing the game most of the night and lost a 6-4 decision to their WHL BC Division rivals at Langley Events Centre.

The Cats gave up three unanswered goals in the third period and were doomed to their second loss in two tries to start the season, while the Giants improved to 2-0.

Adam Hall, the Giants 20-year-old centre, scored two goals, including the game-winner five minutes into the third period, which went in off Hall’s back. He was sliding on the ice after being upended deep in the Cougar end when Justin Sourdif centred the puck and it deflected in past goalie Taylor Gauthier.

Sourdif, a Florida Panthers’ draft pick, finished with a goal and two assists. Ty Thorpe, Ethan Semeniuk and Justin Lies also found the net behind Gauthier, making his first start of the season in the Cougar nets. Carter MacAdams, Kyren Gronick, Hudson Thornton and Jonny Hooker scored for Prince George.

The Giants erased a Cougar lead with three goals in a five-minute span late in the first period.

MacAdams, a 17-year-old Langley minor hockey product, quieted the capacity crowd of 2,638 in the Langley Events Centre when he opened the scoring 11:15 in, set up with a pass from behind the net from Mitch Kohner.

Hall banged in a rebound to even the score a couple minutes later and Sourdif gave Vancouver the lead on a scramble in front of Gauthier with the Giants on a power play. The Giants won a face-off in the Cougar end and Thorpe was able to get his stick on Mazden Leslie’s point shot to tip it in for a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Leslie drew three assists in the game from his point position.

Just as they did last weekend in their season-opening 5-4 loss to Kamloops, the Cougars came back with a strong second period to even the count 3-3. Gronick was left open on a 3-on-1 break and took the pass from linemate Riley Heidt to score his first of the season just 1:15 into the second. Then at 7:14, Cats defenceman Thornton let go a wrist shot that ticked into the net off a Giant stick past goalie Jesper Vikman for an unassisted goal, the second of the season for the WHL rookie defenceman.

The Giants regained the lead after a miscue in the Cougar end, 12:32 into the second period. Leslie directed the puck at the net from a sharp angle which gave Gauthier trouble and Semeniuk, a 16-year-old freshman from Fort St. John, was left unguarded and got to the rebound for his first career WHL goal.

The Cougars went scoreless on five power-play opportunities. Vancouver finished 1-for-3.

Prince George outshot their opponents 36-35.

The Cougars play tonight in Kamloops. They’ll return to CN Centre next weekend for a doubleheader against the Victoria Royals, the start of a six-game uninterrupted stretch in October involving the two B.C. Division rivals.

LOOSE PUCKS: The 18-year-old Samson was the oldest defenceman in the Cougars’ lineup, with 19-year-old Aiden Reeves and 20-year-old Majid Kaddoura both scratched. Sixteen-year-old Bauer Dumanski, the Cougars’ second-round, 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft and a native of Lockwood, Sask., played his first WHL game Friday… The Cougars are still carrying four 20-year-olds on the roster, including Kaddoura, Gauthier, Hooker and Connor Bowie… Cougars LW Blake Eastman suffered an upper-body injury this week in practice and is listed as day-today…  Langley Events Centre is built to seat 5,272 spectators but a provincial public health order remains in effect which limits crowds in any indoor arena to half-capacity… Friday’s game was the first of 10 meetings this season between the Giants and Cougars.