The Prince George Cougars are desperate for points.
They didn’t get the two that were on the table Tuesday night at CN Centre, falling 5-4 in overtime to the Kelowna Rockets at CN Centre. But considering they had to come from behind with three goals in the third period to force the issue, that one point will have to do for now.
Rockets left winger Dillon Hamaliuk took advantage of a sloppy line change while the teams were playing 3-on-3 and with 2:17 gone in overtime he ended it, cashing in the odd-man rush with a one-timed shot that got behind Cougar goalie Tyler Brennan.
The Cougars tied it with just 19 seconds left in regulation time and Brennan on the bench. Filip Koffer found the puck in a tangle of bodies in front of Rockets netminder Roman Basran and the shot from the Czech import found the back of the net.
The Cougars were playing catchup after Matthew Wedman broke a 1-1 deadlock 21 seconds into the second period. Hamaliuk gave the visitors a 3-1 lead a few minutes later, connecting on a Kelowna power play. But the Cats rallied to tie it on back-to-back goals three minutes apart from Cole Moberg, his 10th of the season on a Cougar power play, and Connor Bowie, who finished a plus-2 and was selected as the game’s first star.
Pavel Novak made it a 4-3 count with his third point of the game with less than three minutes remaining in regulation time. Kaeden Korczak opened the scoring for Kelowna 3:46 into the first period, and Moberg followed up with the equalizer at 7:07.
Shots were 28-24 in the Rockets’ favour.
“It was a sloppy game, undisciplined play put us behind the 8-ball, said Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb, in the postgame broadcast. “I think we were lucky to get the point.”
The Rockets (26-26-2-3) improved their overtime record to 7-2. They remain fourth in the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division, eight points behind the third-place Vancouver Giants.
The Cougars are now 2-4 in games decided in overtime. With that point, Prince George (17-31-4-4) reduced the gap to 11 points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who occupy the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Cougars hold two games in hand over the T-birds and will play the Rockets again Wednesday in the rematch at CN Centre (7 p.m. start).
The Cougars were without centre Ilijah Colina (sick) and lost centre Ethan Browne early in the game.
“Tomorrow we have to play a lot smarter,” said Lamb. “We’ve got some sickness going through the team. I hope we’re healthier tomorrow.”