Bison Leads Cougars Over Blazers
With some key players absent due to injury and suspension the Prince George Cougars knew that depth and goaltending would be key to their success this weekend. Saturday they got both in droves as they held off their B.C. Division rivals, the Kamloops Blazers by a 4-2 score. Bartek Bison had two goals while Ty Edmonds turned aside 37 of the 39 Kamloops shots. Jesse Gabrielle’s shorthanded marker early in the third period broke open a 2-2 tie. Collin Shirley and Rudolfs Balcers countered with goals for the visitors.
The first 20 minutes yielded zero in the way of goals as both Ty Edmonds and Blazers starter Dylan Ferguson were strong for their respective teams. The Blazers peppered the Cougars net with 17 first period shots but Edmonds stopped them all, and Ferguson was just as good going 12-for-12.
Much of the game’s offense came in period two, and the Cougars got things started at 4:50 when Max Martin skated into the left circle and snuck a low underneath the glove of Ferguson and home for his third of the season.
Exactly one minute later though the Blazers countered when Rudolfs Balcers slid his 10th of the season past Ty Edmonds. His goal also came four-on-four.
Late in the second period the Cougars were given a double-minor power play when Josh Anderson was high-sticked in the face by Spencer Bast. Anderson left the game and did not return but it was Kamloops who grabbed the momentum when Collin Shirley picked off a past at the Cougars blueline, raced in alone and tucked a backhand shot past Edmonds to give the Blazers a 2-1 lead while shorthanded.
Their lead would last a total of 94 seconds. Bartek Bison answered the Blazers goal with a power play marker of his own that came at 17:35 off a Tate Olson rebound. Bison’s fourth of the season came off a scramble in front and got the crowd of over 3800 back into a frenzy with time winding down in the second period.
Shane Collins thought he’d given the Cougars a 3-2 lead with seven seconds remaining in the third, but Kolby Johnson was called for goaltender interference on the play and the Blazers would start the final period with a power play.
But with time winding down in the Johnson minor the Cougars took their second and final lead of the game. Off a two-on-two rush, Jansen Harkins crossed the blueline, made a terrific behind the back pass to a streaking Jesse Gabrielle who took the puck, skated into the right circle and buried his team leading eighth of the season beneath the crossbar and past Ferguson.
Bartek Bison then provided the Cougars with the insurance marker at 15:25 when he raced wide on the defender, got in close on Ferguson and slid a puck underneath him and home for his fifth of the season and his second of the game securing the Cougars 14th victory of the season.
Special teams played a big part in Saturday’s game as the Cougars went one-for-six on the power play but had a shorthanded goal to their credit as well. Kamloops had a shorthanded goal but went zero-for-four on their power play chances. They outshot the Cougars by a slim 39-38 margin through 60 minutes.
Saturday’s victory helped push the Cougars record to 14-3-2-0. They are now 6-3-1-0 at home and will return to action on Thursday in Langley against the Vancouver Giants. That game marks the start of a three game road trip through the B.C. Division which also features stops in Kamloops (Saturday) and Kelowna (the following Tuesday).