Is all of the Prince George Cougars’ energy being used too early in games? Is Taylor Gauthier being over-used between the pipes? Is there one player that didn’t step up when opportunity knocked at the door?
Whatever the answers to the above questions may or may not be, the Cougars are in desperate need of short-term solutions.
On Sunday, the team suffered its 13th straight setback in a 4-1 decision to the Vancouver Giants, who officially clinched a Western Hockey League (WHL) playoff birth as a result.
The defeat surpasses 2014-15’s season-worst 12 consecutive losses (Jan. 7 - Jan. 31, 2015) and doubles Prince George’s loss count; their record now pinned at 16-32-4-2 with 14 games remaining.
Despite sustaining an undisclosed upper-body injury on Friday in Kelowna, goaltender Taylor Gauthier started in his 42nd game this year, fourth in a row, stopping 25 of 29 shots.
Ethan Browne was the lone goal-scorer for the Cougars Sunday afternoon, potting the puck exactly nine minutes into the contest on a power-play and holding onto the 1-0 lead after the first frame.
Defencemen Ryan Schoettler and Cole Moberg added the helpers that extended the Cats' special teams goal streak to seven games.
The Giants scored a quick one to start the second stanza 42 seconds in, which was followed by three third period goals, one on a man-advantage, within 8:18 of each other.
Prince George has now allowed seven third-period goals in the last five games.
Cougars rookie forward Mitch Kohner left the game due to an upper-body injury he received after a check to the head from Vancouver’s Bowen Byram.
This is also the second straight loss with General Manager Mark Lamb as the interim head coach.
Prince George is now 10 points back of the second wild-card spot, currently held by the Seattle Thunderbirds, and seven back of the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL’s Western Conference.
The Cougars return home to the CN Centre for Family Day weekend, playing four games in five days, including a doubleheader against the Victoria Royals Friday (Feb. 15) and Saturday (Feb. 16), both with 7 p.m. puck-drops.
They’ll take on the U.S. Division-leading Everett Silvertips Family Day Monday (Feb. 18) starting at 2 p.m. and again on Tuesday (Feb. 19) at 7 p.m.