The Prince George Cougars were six minutes away from a crucial win but the Kelowna Rockets had other ideas, rallying late in the third period for a stunning 5-4 victory at the CN Centre Wednesday.
Matthew Wedman scored twice in two minutes to turn a 4-3 deficit into a one-goal win for the visitors. Wedman scored his second, the gamewinner, with just over three minutes left in regulation. Kyle Topping, Tyson Feist, and Dillon Hamaliuk also scored in the win for the Rockets.
Cole Schwebius made 24 saves to earn his seventh win.
Cole Moberg, fresh off a two-goal, three-point night Tuesday, scored another two goals Wednesday and was named the game’s second star. Connor Bowie and Vladislav Mikhalchuk scored in the first period for Prince George. Josh Maser finished with two assists in the setback.
Taylor Gauthier suffered the loss in net after yielding five goals on 39 shots.
The loss left the Cougars (17-32-4-4) 11 points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds for the second wild-card playoff spot in the WHL's Western Conference. Kelowna (27-26-2-3) remained fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind the third-place Vancouver Giants. The Rockets also beat the Cougars 5-4 in overtime Tuesday night.
Prince George was tied 2-2 with Kelowna after 20 minutes Wednesday and went up 3-2 and 4-3 but couldn’t close out the Rockets, who has now won seven of eight games in the season series.
Just like Tuesday, the Rockets opened the scoring early. Feist scored just his second goal of the season at 2:22 on a seeing-eye shot from the blueline. The Cougars did respond quickly.
Mikhalchuk scored from the slot at 5:33 to tie the game 1-1. Then, after Hamaliuk made it 2-1 for the Rockets midway through the first period, the Cougars found a late equalizer in the dying moments of the opening frame. Bowie, with just 31 seconds left on the clock, fired home his 12th of the season past the glove of Schwebius to tie the game again, this time 2-2.
In the second period, Moberg grabbed the first lead for the Cougars in the midweek doubleheader with the Rockets. On the power-play, he let go a blast from the blueline that went bar down at 4:19; his 11th goal of the season and third in two games. Moberg’s tally was the only goal in the middle period, as the Cougars took a 3-2 into the break.
Kelowna got off to another fast start in the final frame. Topping scored just 82-seconds into the third to tie the game 3-3, popping in a rebound after Pavel Novak’s point shot squeaked through Gauthier’s pads.
Moberg snatched the lead back for Prince George midway through the third and during a four-on-four sequence. The Cougars used the extra room to their advantage, as Moberg took a drop pass on an odd man rush and sniped over the goalie’s glove from the slot at 6:57; his second of the night and 12th of the season.
The back-and-forth third period continued, as Wedman scored his first of two in the frame with just over five minutes left. Wedman, from what appeared to be a near impossible angle, scored short side over Gauthier’s shoulder to tie it 4-4 at 14:37. Wedman wasn’t done there.
The 20-year-old scored the game winner two minutes and 17 seconds after his game-tying goal. Wedman followed the puck to the net after Hamaliuk was stopped after cutting to the net from the goal line. Wedman was there to clean up the rebound, roofing the puck over a pile of bodies in the crease with 3:06 left on the clock.
Prince George pulled Gauthier in favour of a 6-on-5 advantage late but could not manufacture any late-game heroics like they did Tuesday.
Game Notes: Maser extended his point streak to seven games with his two assists. In the past seven games he has 11 points (3-8-11)... Moberg has four goals and five points in the last two games... The Cougars have now surrendered the opening goal in eight of their last nine games... Prince George is 1-5-2-0 against Kelowna this season.
Next Up: The Cougars wrap up their three-game home stand against the Kamloops Blazers on Friday (7 p.m. start). Single game tickets start at $13 per person. Tickets are available at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca.