Vancouver, B.C. – The good news: The Giants managed a single point from a game they trailed 4-0. On the flip-side the Giants were .3 seconds away from a regulation victory but couldn’t hang on. Dennis Cholowski tied it for Prince George as time expired in the third, and Kody McDonald won it with his hat-trick goal at 4:49 of overtime giving the Prince George Cougars the 7-6 road victory in Langley. Ty Ronning responded with three goals for Vancouver while Tyler Benson chimed in with four assists. Rookie goaltender Isaiah DiLaura earned his first WHL victory in goal for Prince George while Todd Scott earned the overtime loss for Vancouver.
Less than 24 hours removed from a spirited 2-1 road victory in Everett, the Giants found themselves down 4-0 just 6:46 into the first period. Dennis Cholowski (1:50) and Max Kryski (2:49) scored 59 seconds apart then Josh Curtis (5:44) and Kody McDonald (6:46) struck 62 seconds apart to quickly pace the visitors to their four-goal cushion.
Vancouver’s comeback attempt began at 9:24 when James Malm converted his 14th goal of the season on a five-on-three power play off a feed from Tyler Benson. Ty Ronning then buried his first of three on the night on a wrap-around at 14:14 to move the Giants back within two goals.
Shots were 20-14 favoring the Giants after one, but the Cougars led 4-2.
Kody McDonald moved the Cougars lead back to three when he whacked home a Nic Holowko rebound just 3:39 into the second period.
Jason McKee’s Giants weren’t prepared to go quietly into the night though as Ty Ronning responded with two tallies in the final eight minutes of period to move the score to 5-4. Ronning’s hat-trick goal also happened to be the 100th of his WHL career. He’s now set a new career-high in goals with 34.
Just 3:10 into the third period the Giants got back even when Bowen Byram’s point-shot was redirected past DiLaura off a crowd in front of the net. For the rookie defenceman it was his third goal of the season, and second against Prince George in as many games.
The Langley Events Centre crowd of 3767-strong came unglued moments later when Jared Dmytriw one-timed home a feed from Brayden Watts off a two-on-one rush to give the Giants an improbable 6-5 lead.
With time winding down in the third, Kody McDonald took a penalty for Prince George to give the Giants a power play to finish the game. Despite being down a man, the Cougars pulled DiLaura from the net anyway, and ended up with an offensive zone faceoff with 3.2 seconds remaining in the third.
Once the puck dropped, Dennis Cholowski swopped into the right-wing circle, grabbed the loose puck and snapped a quick shot past Todd Scott with .3 seconds remaining on the game-clock.
The officials reviewed it, but quickly deemed it a good goal and the Cougars had achieved an improbable comeback of their own.
Giants defenceman Matt Barberis was then penalized for hooking in the later stages of overtime which set the scene for the eventual game-winner.
Up four skaters to three, Cougars forward Kody McDonald skated the puck into the high slot and wired his third of the game and 18th of the season past the glove of Scott to give the Cougars their 14th victory of the season and their third against the Giants.
The final shots were 47-39 favoring the Giants (19-14-3-2) who with a single point remain three points back of Victoria for second place in the B.C. Division standings. Vancouver finished one-for-five on the power play while the Cougars ended up one-for-three. The Giants are now 2-2-1-0 against the Cougars through five meetings this season.
Next up for the Giants: A rematch with the same Prince George Cougars club that will take place at 2:00 PM on Monday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre.
– Ty Ronning now sits alone in third place in WHL goal-scoring with 35. His previous season-high for goals was 31 during the 2015-16 season. It was Ronning’s second hat-trick of the season.
– Tyler Benson’s four assist effort moves him into a tie with James Malm for second in team scoring. Benson’s 37 points have come in just 25 games.
– The Giants are now an even 3-3 in overtime in 2017-18.