Rockets 3 Cougars 2
It took five tries but the Kelowna Rockets have earned their first victory of the season over the Prince George Cougars. Friday night at the CN Centre the Cats dropped a 3-2 decision at the hands of the visiting Rockets. Kole Lind struck twice for Kelowna while his linemates Dillon Dube added two assists. Colby McAuley and Jesse Gabrielle scored second period goals for the Cougars who played a strong first 40 minutes before falling off in the third. Kelowna ended the game with a slight 34-32 edge in shots.
Kelowna took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Their first goal came at 8:12 while shorthanded. Dillon Dube won a race for a loose puck behind the Cougars net, shrugged off a defender before finding Kole Lind in front of the net. Lind made no mistake for his 23rd of the season to put the visitors ahead by one.
Late in the period the Rockets increased their lead when Reid Gardiner ripped his fourth of the season past the glove of Ty Edmonds off the rush. Both Nick Merkley and Calvin Thurkauf assisted the second Rocket goal of the period.
Despite trailing 2-0 after one the Cougars outshot Kelowna 13-11 and had some good looks on the Kelowna goal. Rockets starter Michael Herringer came up with some timely stops in the first and had some help from his goal post as well.
20 seconds into the second though the Cougars solved Herringer when Colby McAuley forced a turnover at the Rockets blueline, raced in alone in Herringer and ripped a shot past his glove and in for his 19th of the season.
Jesse Gabrielle then tied the score at 17:09 of the second when he finished off a Kody McDonald pass from the high slot off the rush. Gabrielle’s 24th was also assisted on by Brogan O’Brien.
Through two periods the game was tied 2-2 with the Cougars outshooting Kelowna 27-18.
Period three though was a much different story. The Rockets outshot the Cougars 16-5 and controlled the play from the get go. The Rockets persistence would eventually pay off when Dillon Dube and Kole Lind combined on another at the 7:23 mark. After a lengthy shift in the opposing zone controlling the play, Dube was eventually able to find Lind in alone in front of the Cougars net. Lind waited for Ty Edmonds to commit before stuffing home his second of the game and 25th of the season handing the Rockets a 3-2 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
The final shots were 34-32 for Kelowna who went zero-for-two on the power play but struck once shorthanded. The Cougars went zero-for-five on the power play and now sit at 36-15-3-0 through 54 games.
Richard Matvichuk’s crew now lead the B.C. Division by eight points as the Blazers earned a single point in a shootout loss in Seattle Friday, but maintain a five point lead on the Everett Silvertips for first in the Western Conference.
Saturday the Cougars and Rockets will once again square off at the CN Centre with puck drop scheduled for 7 PM.