Home Sweet Home!
After four consecutive road victories to start their season the Cougars continued their winning ways in front of one of the loudest and largest CN Centre hockey crowds in recent memory. 5282 strong were a big factor in the Cougars 4-1 victory Friday over the Kelowna Rockets. Brad Morrison paced the Cougars offense with two goals and Yan Khomenko and Shane Collins added third period power play markers to give the Cougars their first home opener victory since 2012-13.
Full credit to the visitors though who silenced the home crowd early. Just 2:45 into the first period, Jake Kryski scored his second of the season for the Kelowna Rockets to quickly stake his team to a 1-0 lead.
Nerves are inevitable in a home opener and it showed at times in the first as the Cougars struggled to gain some offensive traction, but that changed in the later stages of the period.
After going unsuccessful on a series of power play chances the Cougars were eventually rewarded when the veteran trio of Kody McDonald, Brogan O’Brien and Brad Morrison combined to tie the score. Morrison finished off the play with his first of two on the night in a blistering shot from the high slot that snuck past the glove of Michael Herringer to make it a 1-1 game. The Cougars outshot the Rockets 11-5 in the first.
Richard Matvichuk’s team came out with a bang in the second period thanks to some power play heroics from Morrison, who knocked home his own rebound from the left side of the net to give the Cougars the 2-1 lead.
From there both Kelowna’s Michael Herringer and Prince George’s Ty Edmonds did their part in goal, keeping the door shut and through 40 minutes the Cougars lead remained at 2-1 despite outshooting the Rockets 25-12.
The third period though belonged entirely to the Cougars who outshot the Rockets 19-4. First it was Yan Khomenko who increased the Cougars to lead 3-1 with a power play rebound goal at 3:56 of the final period. For Khomenko it was his second goal in as many games.
Shane Collins then rounded out the scoring with a power play marker of his own at 12:05 to cement the 4-1 score. The Cougars power play finished the night three-for-10, while the penalty kill was a perfect three-for-three.
Between the pipes, Ty Edmonds cruised to his fourth victory of the season, stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced. At the other end, Michael Herringer faced 44 shots and made 40 saves. His record falls to 1-3 on the season.
With that, the Cougars improve their record to a league leading 5-0. They’ll now kick off the month of October with a home rematch with the Kelowna Rockets Saturday at the CN Centre.
Friday’s home opener victory was the first for the Cougars since a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds back in September, 2012.
Three Cougars are atop to the WHL leading scorers list: Jared Bethune (9), Colby McAuley (9) and Brad Morrison (8)
Ty Edmonds is 4-0 to start the season with a 1.47 GAA and a .946 save percentage.