Prince George Cougars Game Recap: Spokane 6 Cougars 2
SPOKANE, WA - The Prince George Cougars dropped the opener of their two-game US Division road trip, losing 6-2 to the Spokane Chiefs Friday, at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
10-minutes may have been the biggest difference Friday, as the Chiefs (22-18-1-2) got out to a 3-0 lead in the first nine half of the opening period, as they snapped their three-game winless skid.
The Cougars (16-20-4-3) tried to claw back, as they made it a 3-2 game at one point early in the second period, before the Chiefs tact on three unanswered goals. Despite the result, it was a solid effort from Prince George, as they outshot the Chiefs 38-28, including 25-13 over the final 40-minutes.
Liam Ryan scored his first WHL goal in the first period, and Aaron Boyd scored short-handed in the second. Taylor Gauthier was tagged with the loss, stopping 22 of 28 shots. Ilijah Colina had an assist in his Cougars' debut, setting up the Ryan goal in the first period.
Kailer Yamamoto marked his return to the Spokane line up with a goal and line-mate Jaret Anderson-Dolan finished with a goal and three points, as he was named the game's first star. Bailey Brkin, making his first start for the Chiefs since being acquired from the Kootenay ICE, stopping 36 of 38 shots.
Yamamoto opened the scoring just 71-seconds into the game, as he scored in his return, fresh off winning a bronze medal with Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The Edmonton Oilers draft pick poked in rebound at the top of the crease after Gauthier made acrobatic pad-save on the initial shot by Anderson-Dolan.
Jake McGrew doubled the Chiefs' lead just before the five-minute mark, taking a drop pass from Riley McKay, and his well-placed wrist-shot beat Gauthier over the blocker at 4:29. The Cougars turned the puck over in the neutral zone, as McKay turned back quickly, catching the Cougars on the counter-attack, before feedng the trailing McGrew in the middle.
Five-minutes after that goal, Riley Woods made it 3-0 for the Chiefs on a similar play. Hudson Elynuik carried down the left-wing, before dropping the puck back to Woods, who leaned into a one-timer that went off the post and in at 9:27.
Prince George, despite being down 3-0, had a bevy of chances in that first period to get on the scoresheet, and eventually they did courtesy of an unlikely source. Liam Ryan scored his first WHL goal, with less than five-minutes left in the opening frame.
Colina did a great job holding the puck in at the blue-line, before spotting an open Ryan down in front of the net. Ryan took the pass, spun around and fired through the five-hole of Brkin at 14:10 for the milestone goal.
Prince George pulled within one goal in the opening seconds of the middle period. With Spokane on a power-play that carried over from the first, Aaron Boyd came down the right-wing, dragging the puck to the middle, before snapping the puck over Brkin's glove just 26-seconds into the second period to make it 3-2.
Spokane go their two-goal lead back, as McGrew scored his second of the game on a power-play at 5:11. The shot from the wall was knocked down in front, but McGrew was there to grab to the rebound and lift it over Brkin's arm
Anderson-Dolan made it 5-2 late in the second, stealing the puck at his own blue-line, before taking off down the middle short-handed. Anderson-Dolan showed off his great speed, busting through the neutral zone and right into the Cougars end, before firing a wrist-shot over the blocker of Gauthier at 17:49.
Leading 5-2 in the third, the Chiefs tact on one more goal. Late in the game, Jake Toporowski came down the right-wing, before centering to Ethan McIndoe, who tapped-in the cross-ice pass with just under three-minutes left in the game.
FINAL SCORE: 6-2 Chiefs.
Shots: 38-28 Cougars.
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-7 Chiefs 1-6.
Three Stars: 1) Jaret Anderson-Dolan 2) Bailey Brkin 3) Jake McGrew.
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Western Hockey League Stories from January 15, 2018
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