Tigers' second-period rampage rips Cougars

The Prince George Cougars' nightmare on Ospika lasted for nine minutes.
Eight minutes and 44 seconds, to be precise.
In that time, the Medicine Hat Tigers scored five consecutive goals to wipe out a 2-0 deficit and the visitors hung on to leave with 5-4 victory Wednesday night at CN Centre.
How did it happen?
It started with a Tigers' power play when Tyler Preziso batted in a rebound for the first Tigers' goal. A face-off win led to the second goal, a point-shot wrister from Medicine Hat captain James Hamblin through a crowd. The go-ahead goal midway through the period from Brett Kemp was a nice setup from Parker Gavlas and Kemp's sharp-angle shot was in the net before Cougars' goalie Taylor Gauthier could react.
The killer came on another Tigers' power play and Hamblin did the deed, taking a harmless-looking wrister from the point that somehow slipped through Gauthier's legs. Eighty-one seconds later, Tigers winger Baxter Anderson fired the game-winner, another close-range shot that beat a diving Gauthier, making his first start since suffering an ankle injury a couple weeks ago.
The Cougars made a game of it in the third period with power-play goals from Cole Moberg (his second of the game) and Jack Sander, but ran out of time to complete the comeback.
"It was just work ethic, (losing) battles and turnovers, that's all it was," said Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. "They're a good team but if you play like you don't have to play a good team (to lose). We haven't had a lot of games like that and that's what's so frustrating right now."
The Cougars were coming off consecutive losses on the road last weekend in Kelowna and Spokane in which they were outscored a combined 12-1 while having to rely on junior B callup goalie (Jacob Herman), with Gauthier hurt and usual backup Tyler Brennan playing in the Word Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
"I didn't like our game in Spokane and I'm not going to dwell on those games," said Lamb. "It's a total different situation coming in and playing Medicine Hat at home with your starting goalie in.
"(Gauthier) got hurt and we had a tough time in goal on the weekend. It's hard enough to win with the Number 1 goalie playing great. He would probably like to have this game back, that's certainly not his first game."
It was another disappointing end for the Cougars' faithful, a crowd of just 1,826 who came out to witness their boys lose for the 12th time in 17 games this season.
"We've been doing that the last couple games, we always start pretty good and finish pretty good but that middle period's been hurting us a lot lately," said Cougars winger Josh Maser. "We can't be giving up five goals in one period and expect to win.
"We do have a good group in there and we can play with any team in this league. But we have mental lapses and I think that really hurts us in the end. We have to do a better job of getting in front of shots. We try to block shots and sometimes we just get in (the goalie's) eyes and he can't see where it's going."
The Cougars (4-12-0-1, fifth in B.C. Division) were outshot 29-28. Tigers goalie Garin Bjorklund, 17, made 25 saves to improve his record to 5-0.
Mitch Kohner staked the Cougars to an early lead with the only goal if the first period, scoring his third of the season on a sharp-angle shot, 1:37 into the game.
The Cougars will be back on home ice Friday night at CN Centre to host the Victoria Royals in the first of a two-game set. The Royals (7-7-1-0, fourth in B.C. Division) are coming off a 6-3 win Wednesday in Kelowna.
Cougars centre Ethan Browne left the game midway through the third period after getting cut under his eye by a high stick, which went unpenalized. Browne was playing his first game back since missing seven with a concussion. The Cats received another scare earlier in the period when centre Ilijah Colina fell awkwardly to the ice after a high hit from Gavlas which resulted in the Tigers defenceman being ejected with a head contact major penalty. Browne and Colina both returned to the game.

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