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Tyler Brennan’s first clean sheet spoiled as Prince George Cougars fall to Giants in shootout

Goaltender turned aside all 43 shots he faced in the 1-0 extra-time setback

Tyler Brennan’s Easter Sunday today (April 4) will be memorable, despite one bad egg.

The Prince George Cougars’ goaltender notched his first career WHL shut out, technically speaking, by stopping all 43 shots from the Vancouver Giants that included the full 60 minutes of play and overtime.

However, on the final shot in the shootout, Tristen Nielsen found an open lane past the 17-year-old and handed the Cats a 1-0 loss.

While Brennan was proud of his performance, he says it’s more important to earn two points for his team at the end of the day.

“Obviously it’s nice, but it would’ve been way better if we got the win,” he said when asked by PrinceGeorgeMatters of the value of earning his first shutout.

“I mean, it’s definitely a nice thing to have, but I would’ve loved the win a little better.”

Brennan was the man of the match in being named the game’s first star in his 18th career WHL game, and the second star of the night across the league.

At the other end of the Sandman Centre Sunday night, the Cougars were held to just 14 shots against Giants netminder Trent Miner, a 2019 NHL draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche.

That’s four in the first period, four in the second and six in the third.

Fair to say Brennan did most of the heavy lifting in Prince George’s end, especially on the power-play, but his teammates helped kill off all six penalties against them.

“I don’t think there was ever a time [when] I did everything myself,” he explained.

“A lot of times, there were rebounds that the defencemen cleared out so I give credit to them as well.”

The Winnipeg, Man., product’s career-night also came - days after he was named to Canada’s roster for the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championships, which takes place in Texas April 26 to May 6.

This is set to be Brennan’s second time wearing the maple leaf after representing his country at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

“It’s definitely a plus knowing that I’m playing at my best right now,” he said about the timing of the announcement and Prince George’s tilt with Vancouver.

“It’s a pretty big tournament and the best I’ve ever gone to, so I’m trying to stay at my best for that.”

Following Sunday’s game, PrinceGeorgeMatters asked General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb if Brennan could potentially take over the go-to spot if he continues playing at the level he did on Sunday.

“He’s doing everything he can,” he remarked. 

“We don’t even look at it as a number-one spot; we’ve got two really good goaltenders. That’s why he’s going to be going to the Under-18 World Championships. You know, he keeps playing like that he’s going to do well for himself.”

The Cougars didn’t score on any of its three shootout attempts in the order of Koehn Ziemmer, Ethan Browne and Riley Heidt.

Ziemmer lost the puck near the net, Browne hit the inside right post, while Heidt tried to go five-hole and Miner shut the door.

Coach Lamb noted his younger athletes are stepping up to the challenge and are realizing it takes a lot more than scoring goals to win in the WHL, but would also like to see more action from his older players moving forward.

“We looked sluggish,” he said, “just the simple plays weren’t there, and when you’re sluggish mentally, we had a lot of guys that were very under par.”

As a result of the loss in extra time, Prince George earns one point in the B.C. Division standings but drops to a record of 1-2-0-1.

The Cougars will remain in the Kamloops hub for their next contest while the Kelowna Rockets continue a 14-day COVID-19 suspension of its activities after seven members, including four players tested positive for the virus.

Prince George takes on Victoria as the designated home team Tuesday night (April 6) with a 7 p.m. puck drop.

The Cats' Thursday match (April 8) against Vancouver has been postponed to a date that still being determined.