Cougars now winless in 13

The losing streak has reached a diabolical 13 for the Prince George Cougars.
The Vancouver Giants made it a baker’s dozen Sunday afternoon in Langley, playing inhospitable hosts while rolling to a 4-1 victory.
This was anybody’s game until the third period, when the Giants scored three times to put it away. Giants captain Davis Koch got it started with a power-play goal 7:06 into the period, followed by even-strength goals from Justin Sourdif and Tristan Nielsen.
David Tendeck made 33 saves and was spectacular in the first two periods as the game’s first star, keeping the Cougars from adding to their early 1-0 lead. Ethan Browne got the Cougars off to a good start nine minutes in when he banged in an end-board carom after Cole Moberg’s point shot went wide.
The Giants tied it 42 seconds into the second period. Bowen Byram hit Jadon Joseph with a stretch pass up the left side. He cut into the slot and lost control as he tried to shoot but Jared Dmitriw was there to corral the loose puck and dumped it into the net.
Taylor Gauthier came up with his best save of the game early in a Giants power play in the third period, denying Milos Roman’s deke attempt with a stick save. But on the ensuing face off, Koch took the puck on the left side and from the circle found the net behind Gauthier for a 2-1 Giants’ lead.
Sourdif added to the count, the 15th of the season for the Giants’ rookie winger.
He was fed a crisp pass in the slot form Koch and after being denied by Gauthier he picked up his own rebound and fired it into the net.
Nielsen capped the scoring at 15:24 of the third, after he stripped the puck from Cougars defenceman Rhett Rhinehart at centre ice with the teams playing 4-on-4. Nielsen finished his breakaway with a high shot in over the glove of Gauthier.
“It’s a tendency that’s going through this team – it’s hard to put 60 minutes together for whatever reason,” said Mark Lamb, who took over Thursday as head coach when the Cougars fired Richard Matvichuk. “We do a lot of good things and then shoot ourselves in the foot and it’s kind of a team effort when we start doing that, and it starts to snowball. Our patience isn’t there at all.
“When momentum changes and they get a goal we seem to lose our composure and lose our patience and one leads to another. The way we’re built now, we can’t do that, we can’t score at will.
“The losing wears on people but you’ve got to overcome it. We’ve got to change a habit and putting a finger on that is something we’re going to figure out.”
Looking for a positive, the Cougars’ power play still ranks near the bottom of the league but it connected for a seventh-straight game and generated plenty of chances in their five opportunities. Lamb is looking forward to three days of practice to work out the bugs with his troops this week as they prepare for a weekend series at CN Centre against the Victoria Royals.
Vancouver dressed just 11 forwards for the game and lost one of them when Brayden Watts got hurt in the first period. The Cougars were without defenceman Joel Lakusta (concussion) and centre Ilijah Colina (who returned to his home in North Delta to sort out some personal issues).
Gauthier, who left Friday’s game in Kelowna with a head injury midway through the third period, made 25 saves in the Cougar nets Sunday. The Cougars outshot the Giants 33-29.
Vancouver won eight of the nine games in the season series with the Cougars. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Giants (37-13-2-10) who remain first in the B.C. Division. The Cougars (16-32-4-2) remained eight points behind Seattle for the second wild-card playoff spot in the WHL’s Western Conference. They have 15 games left, while the T-birds still have 16 to play. The Cats began their weekend Friday in Kelowna, losing 4-3 to the Rockets after taking a 3-1 lead.
The Cougars haven’t won since Jan. 12, when they beat Kelowna 4-0. Prince George has nine home games left this season.

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