For the second consecutive game at the Mac's AAA Midget Hockey Tournament, the Cariboo Cougars got a glittering performance from their starting goaltender. Thanks to the Friday efforts of Xavier Cannon, the Cats pulled out a 4-3 win against the Brampton 45's and have themselves in good position to vie for a playoff spot at the prestigious event.
At the Max Bell Centre in Calgary, the 17-year-old Cannon faced 43 Brampton shots and stopped 40 of them. The Cougars were outshot 15-3 in a scoreless first period but, with Cannon standing tall, were able to find their legs in the second, a stretch of the game in which they outscored Brampton 4-2. The 45's generated the only goal of the third but that's as close as they got.
The Cougars opened the scoring early in the second period, the goal by defenceman Max Arnold. The 45's got a power-play marker from Ethan Barnes about six minutes later but the Cougars responded quickly with goals by Alex Ochitwa and John Herrington and had themselves a 3-1 lead. Brampton - on another strike from Barnes, this time shorthanded - got back within one with 3:45 left to play in the period. At that point, the 45's could have seized some momentum but Grady Thomas scored a key goal for the Cougars with 36 seconds left on the clock.
Aidan Gromek of the 45's was the lone marksman in the third period.
Ochitwa had an assist to go along with his goal, while Brennan Bott - chosen the game star for the Cougars - chipped in with two helpers.
Noah Granata took the loss in net for the 45's. His team - beaten 10-1 by the Swift Current Legionnaires on Thursday - fell to 0-2 in the tournament.
The Cougars now sit with a 1-0-1 record. They started the Mac's on Wednesday with a 2-2 tie against the Calgary NW Flames. In that game, they were outshot 36-20 but were able to count on goalie Devin Chapman to limit the damage done by the Flames.
The Cougars have two preliminary-round games left to play. They'll take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes (1-0-1) this morning and will clash with the Legionnaires on Sunday afternoon.
The top team in each of the five pools will qualify for the quarterfinal playoffs. The three clubs with the next-best records will also advance.
The tournament champion will be determined on Jan. 1.