Heading into Wednesday night’s tilt with the Everett Silvertips, the Prince George Cougars were hunting for revenge.
They had a perfect season ruined when the Tips handed them their first loss of the season the night before, a 4-0 decision with Carter Hart picking up his first shutout of the season.
The Cougars didn’t get off to a great start, as they fell into penalty trouble early. Nick McBride came up big the first time robbing Connor Dewar by sliding to his right and absorbing the puck on the first shot of the night.
Moments later, the home side had a glorious chance to open the scoring, as Carter Hart lost where the puck was, and slid back to his net looking to the opposite corner as Jansen Harkins had the puck on the other side of him. The Winnipeg Jets prospect missed the gaping cage, and Everett was able to counter the other way. Just as Tate Olsen from Prince George was trying to clear the puck, Patrick Bajkov stole it in front of the net, and slid it around McBride for the first goal. Two minutes later with Justin Almeida in the box for high sticking, Riley Suter banged in his first goal of the year off a rebound making it 2-0 Everett.
The Cats would reply quickly giving their fans reason to cheer as Brogan O’Brien and Aaron Boyd scored just nine second a part to even the score at two. After a defensive battle the night before, there were four goals scored on the first six shots Wednesday. Jansen Harkins had a chance to redeem his earlier miss when alone out front following a centring feed, but was stopped by the left toe of Hart.
Before the first period came to a close, the Silvertips would score again on the power play with Kody McDonald in the box for high-sticking. A point shot from Kevin Davis beat a screened McBride to restore his team’s lead. After going 41 for 42 to start the year on the penalty kill, the Cougars allowed two man-advantage goals in the first period.
In the second, veteran Sam Ruopp tried to get his team fired up early with a big hit at centre ice, but wound up getting called for charging. The home crowd wasn’t impressed, but Everett was as they restored their two goal lead with Graham Millar cutting to the slot, and beating McBride through the legs. Just over a minute later it was Everett bumping the score up to 5-2 as Sean Richards rolled behind the net, and centred the puck to Riley Sutter for his first of the season. That would do it for McBride’s night as he was pulled after allowing five goals on 13 shots. Ty Edmonds came into the came after surrendering four goals on 27 shots the night prior.
Brad Morrison had a chance to get his team within two as he made a nice individual play, picking the puck up at his own blueline, and going through two Everett defenders before getting a shot away, but was stopped by Hart. A few minutes later it was Prince George heading to the power play, as Wyatte Wylie sat for kneeing. With nine seconds remaining in the man advantage, a Kolby McAuley shot was stopped, but the rebound bounced out to the far side where Sam Ruopp slapped home his first goal of the season since rejoining the team from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Just as Ruopp’s goal was being announced though it was Everett putting their three goal lead back in place as they went up 6-3. Sean Richards drove down the right wing, and centred for Brian King whose shot was tipped in by Brett Kemp who earlier in the day was named to Team Canada’s Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The third saw Everett shut things down, as they were happy to hold onto their three goal lead. It was the Silvertips with the first two good chances as Edmonds made a sprawling save from his backside. Then with just over seven minutes left in the game, Patrick Bajkov looking for his fourth point of the night rang a shot off the cross bar.
Looking to make things interesting, the Cougars were awarded a late power play, but before Everett could touch the puck Jesse Gabrielle came on as an extra attacker, and right off the bench got a slap shot away that Hart was able to reach up, and grab with his glove. On the ensuing man advantage, it was the visitors getting the best chance as they went on a short-handed two-on-one. The puck was saucered over to Bajkov, and this time his shot was on target, but stopped by the glove of Edmonds.
With the loss, Prince George fell to 8-2 on the season, while Everett bumped their record to 6-1-1. The Cougars still sit first in the Western Conference with 16 points, but at 13 points and with two points in hand, the Silvertips are within range of passing them while the Portland Winterhawks lay just one point back.
Prince George will head South this weekend as they play the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday night, and the Tri-City Americans on Saturday. Everett meanwhile has a pair of divisional rivals to take on, as they match-up with Spokane on Friday, and Seattle on Saturday.