Fifty-six days, 13 consecutive home losses, one ‘mega’ confidence booster.
The Prince George Cougars split the weekend doubleheader on Saturday (March 9) for Mega 50/50 Jackpot Night against the Portland Winterhawks, winning by a score of 5-2 and ending a 13-game losing streak on home ice.
It took the Cats almost two months to break the CN Centre drought much to the delight of General Manager and Interim Head Coach Mark Lamb as the last win in front of the home fans was on Jan. 12 against Kelowna.
"I am really excited about our last two games," said Lamb in a news release. "I’ve said before the only way you get complete buy-in is getting on the other side of a loss and that’s a win. It’s (WHL) a tough league to win in. You have to play smart, Mentally and physically and we did that tonight."
Taylor Gauthier played arguably one of the best games of his season between the pips for Prince George, making key saves in the second and third periods en route to his 14th win of the season.
The 18-year-old stopped 37 of 39 shots in the contest and was named the game's first star; Portland’s Joel Hofer also played brilliantly on the other side of the rink, making 44 saves on 49 shots from the Cougars.
After a scoreless opening frame, the visitors got on the board first three-and-a-half minutes into the second.
Prince George would answer nearly five minutes later thanks to defenceman Austin Crossley, who chased a loose puck in front of the Portland net to light his third lamp of the season.
The Cougars would add three consecutive markers to begin the third period, including two while on a man-advantage, courtesy of Vladislav Mikhalchuk, Connor Bowie (the game-winner), and Josh Maser.
Even though the Winterhawks would cut the lead in half at 4-2 with four minutes remaining, pulling Hofer couldn’t help them complete a comeback, allowing Maser to score on an empty net for his second of the game and his team-high 30th of the season.
This was the Cougars’ 18th win of the season as their record now stands at 18-40-5-3; they only have two games left and both of them are against Kamloops.
Prince George will look to play spoiler for the Blazers, who currently sit seven points back of a wild-card spot in the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs and have four games left to play.
Next weekend, the Cougars will play the first game of the doubleheader at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops on Friday (March 15), but will return home to the CN Centre for the Saturday showdown (March 16).
Puck-drop for the final game of the 2018-19 season, also Fan Appreciation Night, is 7 p.m.
For those of you who missed out, the Mega 50/50 Jackpot reached $39,951, with half of those proceeds going towards the United Way of Northern BC and 10 of its not-for-profit members.