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Ziemmer's six-point night a record-tying effort for Cougar winger

Cats complete two-game sweep of Giants; four-game streak moves P.G. to within three points of second place in WHL's B.C. Division
Koehn Ziemmer
Cougars right winger Koehn Ziemmer had a team record-tying six-point night Wednesday with two goals and four assists in a 7-3 win over the Vancouver Giants Wednesday at CN Centre.

After seven games without a goal, the ever-superstitious Koehn Ziemmer was running out of ideas to break his routine and change his luck.

The 17-year-old Prince George Cougar winger reversed the pattern of taping his sticks, going against the grain from toe to heel, and that didn’t do the trick. Coach Mark Lamb jokingly offered to lend him one of his left-handed sticks but that wouldn’t have worked. Ziemmer is right-hand shot.

The answer for Ziemmer was hanging in his closet. He wore a different suit to Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Giants and was able to shake that simian off his back when he ended that seven-game slump by scoring the game-winner seven minutes into the third period in a 5-3 victory.

But that was just the beginning of something special. The magic Ziemmer brought to the rink at CN Centre for Wednesday’s rematch with the Giants is something Cougar fans who were there to witness it are going remember for a long time.

He wore that same suit to the rink and it worked well for him. Ziemmer was in on all but one of his team’s scoring plays in a 7-3 triumph – the fourth straight win the Cougars -  in front of a crowd of 1,559.

The Mayerthorpe Magician from Alberta combined with linemates Riley Heidt and Craig Armstrong  to score two goals and he assisted on four others for a six-point game - the second Cougar in the team's 28-year Prince George history to reach the six-point plateau in a single game. Dan Baum did it on March 11, 2003 when he had a goal and five assists in a 9-8 overtime win over the Tri-City Americans on March 11, 2003.

“Thinks just clicked tonight with my linemates,” said Ziemmer. “We obviously got in their zone and cycled the puck good there and got rewarded for it.

“I wore a different suit before the game and different shoes, so the last two games it’s all different. It was the right suit and hopefully I’ll keep it for the next two games. We gotta keep this winning streak up, especially right before Christmas. Guys are hungry to go home and see their families. It worked out good for us here.”

Ty Young drew his first start in the Cougars’ crease since May 8 and was victimized  by a screened shot that found the net behind him just 23 seconds into the game.  Young, called up this week from the AJHL Calgary Canucks to replace the injured Tyler Brennan, didn’t see the shot coming through a crowd from pointman Tanner Brown. Another shot from the blueline gave the Giants a 2-0 lead late in the period and Alex Cotton wristed in his 10th of the season.

Young had just three games on his WHL resume, all played last spring in the WHL bubble in Kamloops/Kelowna.

That two-goal deficit easily could have been doubly dire for the Cougars and they were lucky to dodge a couple of bullets in the opening stages of the second period.  Giants defenceman Connor Horning let go a shot that got through Young’s equipment and the puck was trickling into the net when Hudson Thornton got his stick on it at the last second to clear it away. Not long after, with the Cougars turning the puck over in their own end multiple times, Giants winger Justin Lies wired a shot from close range off the crossbar.

The Cats’ fortunes changed abruptly after they killed off a delay of game penalty to Ethan Samson and they exploded for five goals in  span of less than 14 minutes. Encouraged by a feisty four-hit shift from rookie winger Caden Brown, the Cougars’ power play got their offence kickstarted when Heidt tipped in a Samson point shot to cut the deficit to 2-1. With 29 seconds left in the second period, Ziemmer dug the puck off the end board and fed Armstrong in the slot for his first of two goals. That same combination struck again 54 seconds into the third period when Ziemmer took advantage of defenceman Nikko Camazzola’s fall deep in Giant territory and was unobstructed for a goalmouth feed to Armstrong and an easy tap-in for the lead.

A couple minutes later, Ziemmer won a footrace with Justin Lies and got to the pass in front of the net sent his way from left wing off the stick of Armstrong. That spelled the end of the night for Giants goalie Connor Martin, replaced by Will Gurski after allowing five goals on 27 shots.

The Cougar power play struck again and that led to Ziemmer’s second goal. Heidt won the draw in the Vancouver zone and Ziemmer was there to rap in the rebound after Thornton let go as shot from the point. Ziemmer’s sixth point was a pass from centre ahead to Connor Bowie and he used his speed to burn the Giant defence and lift in a high backhander.

Young made 28 saves for his first career WHL victory as his team outshot the Giants 35-31 on their way to their fourth win in six days. Prince George improved to 12-14-0-0 and moved to within three points of the Giants (13-12-1-0) and the Kelowna Rockets (12-9-0-3) for second place in the B.C. Division.

“I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to come back from (AJHL) and play with these guys and I couldn’t have done it unless they scored seven goals, they helped me out there,” said Young.

“It was a tough game, I was a little nervous going in and it definitely made it tough when the first shot went in. I just had to refocus and got it going again. Thornton definitely saved me on that one,” he said.

“I think the big (penalty) kill at the start of the second period was massive. We got one shot on that power play and that was it and it pushed the momentum to our side and we were able to build off that. That was amazing for Ziemmer and I was so happy for that, for him to get out there and prove what he can do, and that’s what I was able to get the win from.”

LOOSE PUCKS: The seven goals the Cougars scored was a season high for a single game in 2021-22… Jansen Harkins had a five-point game for the Cats in the 2017 playoffs, with a goal and four assists March 29, 2017 in Portland…  Both teams had players missing from the lineup while they attend to their duties with their respective world junior teams. Cougars defenceman Viliam Kmec, ranked as a C prospect by NHL Central Scouting for the 2022 draft, left Prince George Wednesday at attend Team Slovakia’s camp. He has four assists in 27 games in his rookie WHL season. The Giants were without goalie Jesper Vikman (11-5-1, 3.18 GAA, .903 SV%) and right winger Fabian Lysell (11g-17a-28pts), who are with Team Sweden, as well as centre Justin Sourdif (8-21-29, their leading scorer), who made Team Canada’s roster for the tournament, Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Giants head coach Michael Dyck is also drawing national team duty as Canada’s assistant coach, and athletic therapist Mike Burnstein is also with the team… The Cougars play Friday in Kamloops and meet the Giants again Saturday in Langley, their final games before the Christmas break. They’ll be back in action at CN Centre Dec. 28-29 to host the Everett Silvertips, followed by a New Year’s Eve date at home with the Kamloops Blazers.

Wednesday WHL summary

Giants 3 at Cougars 7

First Period

1. Vancouver Brown 2 (Mount, Semeniuk) 0:23

2. Vancouver, Cotton 10 (Halaburda, Semeniuk) 17:59

Penalties – Ostapchuk Van (holding) 5:25, Brown Van (roughing), Eastman PG (holding) 7:57.

Second Period

3. Prince George, Thornton 6 (Ziemmer, Bowie) 10:03 (pp)

4. Prince George, Heidt 6 (Samson, Thornton) 14:21

5. Prince George, Armstrong 8 (Ziemmer, Dowhaniuk) 19:31

Penalties – Samson PG (delay of game) 4:19, Cotton Van (roughing) 11:02, Camazzola Van (roughing), Brown PG (roughing) 13:19.

Third Period

6. Prince George, Armstrong 9 (Ziemmer, Dowhaniuk) 0:54

7. Prince George, Ziemmer 6 (Armstrong, Heidt) 2:28

8. Prince George, Ziemmer 7

8. Vancouver, Cotton 11 (  12:48 (pp)

9. Prince George, Bowie 8 (Ziemmer) 15:25

Penalties – Kohle Van (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), Brook PG (fighting) 3:55, Dumanski PG (slashing) 12:48, Langkow Van (roughing, misconduct) 18:49.

Shots on goal by

Vancouver          11           9             11           -31

Prince George    10           14           9             -35

Goal – Vancouver, Martin (L,0-2-1-0, 27-22) and, at 2:28 of third period, Gurski, 4-2; Prince George, Young (W,1-0-0-0, 29-31).

Power plays – Van: 1-2; PG: 2-4

Attendance – 1,559.

Referees – Bryan Bourdon, Trevor Nolan; Linesmen – Tyler Garden, Blair Scott.