(1090 The Fan) — Jordan Tkatch scored the game-winner for Prince George (6-6-0-1) in a sudden-death shootout to deliver a 5-4 win over Seattle at the ShoWare Center.
An attendance of 3,533 watched helplessly as the Thunderbirds (8-3-0-1) squandered a late two-goal lead to the Cougars, which left the team and head coach Steve Konowalchuk lamenting missed opportunities and the point it lost Friday night.
“It’s a tough point we gave away,” Konowalchuk said. “It’s a tough way to lose it… You know they are going to come at you, you just have to be smart and know your assignments. Give (Prince George) credit, they didn’t quit playing.”
Despite controlling the shots-on-goal statistic the entire evening, Prince George found itself trailing 4-2 with barely three minutes to play. However, goals from Klarc Wilson and Troy Bourke tied the score with 55 seconds remaining, thrusting the game into overtime.
“It was kind of a weird game,” said Konowalchuk. “I thought at times we looked really, really good and other times we looked really, really bad. So we just have to keep doing what we did well and correct some of the mistakes.”
Inconsistency and squandered opportunities were the story of the first two periods. Each side controlled the pace for half of each period as momentum swung liberally between the two sides.
Prince George opened the game sharp, dominating in shots-on-goal, as mentioned, with an early 7-0 edge through three minutes of play. That momentum yielded a 1-0 lead thanks to Harkins’ third goal of the season.
The T-Birds slowly came alive with help from defenseman Evan Wardley whose big hits breathed life into the lethargic squad. With just under three minutes to play, Shea Theodore found Seattle’s leading goal-scorer Roberts Lipsbergs wide open on the right goal post for an easy power-play goal to tie the score 1-1.
Eric Benoit gave Seattle a 2-1 lead 1:39 into the second period, as he took advantage of Branden Troock’s deft stick-handling and a rebound from Cougars’ goalie Ty Edmonds which came right out to the slot where Benoit was waiting. The goal, and the subsequent play that followed, showcased much better puck control from the T-Birds.
After a few more missed opportunities by the T-Birds, the ever elusive momentum was seized by Prince George thanks in large part to back-to-back power plays. The Cougars peppered T-Birds goalie Danny Mumaugh with shot after shot, buoyed by Seattle turnovers, before finally tying the game 2-2 on Chase Witala’s goal.
Riley Sheen gave Seattle a 3-2 lead at the 18:41 mark despite the team having been out shot 21-10 over the course of the 20-minute period. The scored held firm at 3-2 until late in the third period when Seattle’s Ethan Bear scored a power-play goal at the 16:50 mark to make it 4-2. That’s when Prince George shocked the T-Birds and everyone in attendance.
“Our group has to work in order to have success,” Prince George head coach Mark Holick said. “If we try to get into a river hockey game, it usually doesn’t work in our favor…We are trying develop an identity, I guess, as a group and certainly we need to have that work ethic.”
Bourke provided a goal and an assist for the Cougars, as well as a shootout equalizer in sudden death after Branden Troock gave the T-Birds the advantage. Jansen Harkins also had a goal and an assist while Edmonds delivered 40 saves.
Mumaugh had 46 saves on 50 shots for the T-Birds and Mathew Barzal added two more assists to extend his point streak to seven games.
Seattle now has to re-group quickly as it takes on Swift Current Saturday.
“We got to have short memory loss here,” Justin Hickman said. “We’ve got to be better and we know that (Saturday), Swift Current is a good team and they are going to come in and not give us anything.”
1. PG Jansen Harkins 3, 3:01
2. SEA Roberts Lipsbergs 9 (Theodore, Barzal), 17:19 PP
3. SEA Eric Benoit 2 (Troock, Delnov), 1:39
4. PG Chase Witala 5 (Bourke, Carvalho), 12:28 PP
5. SEA Riley Sheen 2 (Henry, Bear), 18:41
6. SEA Ethan Bear 1 (Hickman, Barzal), 16:50 PP
7. PG Klarc Wilson 5 (Harkins, Grewal), 17:14
8. PG Troy Bourke 5 (Forsberg, Pochiro), 19:04
– Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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