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HomeNewsCougars shut out Rockets to extend playoff winning streak to five

Cougars shut out Rockets to extend playoff winning streak to five

You can throw the rest versus rust theory out the window.

The Prince George Cougars extended their playoff win streak to five games after a commanding 4-0 win over the Kelowna Rockets in front a standing room only crowd of 5,867 fans at CN Centre on Friday.

PG leads the best-of-seven second round series 1-0.

After a nine-day layoff, it took the Cougars a full period to regain the Midas touch.

On a 3-on-2 rush, Zac Funk held the Rockets blueline and located a hard-charging Ephram McNutt who chipped the loose puck over Rockets netminder Jari Kykkanen for a 1-0 edge after 20 minutes.

“I thought it was a bit of a chess match. We didn’t create a lot but we didn’t give up a lot either. I liked how we handled the first period – we gave ourselves a chance to get our legs and got better as the game went on.”

“In the third period, we were back to normal,” said Mark Lamb, Cougars head coach and general manager.

McNutt, who joked with fellow blueliner Bauer Dumanski on who would reach the scoresheet first jokingly bet against himself.

“Yeah, it was a bit of a backhanded comment but it ended up being a bit of inspiration on who would get it first me or Dumanski and I said Dumer but I guess I didn’t have any faith in myself.”

“I found a seam (on the goal) and jumped into a hole and luckily it popped off the pads and got to me. I was in the right place at the right time. It was an easy one for me.”

Terik Parascak brought the house down making good on a shorthanded breakaway as his shot beat Kykkanen clean to double the PG advantage.

Like a shark that smells blood in the water, the raucous CN Centre crowd could sense a big third period was on the horizon.

And boy did they guess right.

Minnesota Wild signed prospect Riley Heidt glided through the Kelowna zone like a hot knife through butter spotting a streaking Keaton Dowhaniuk who hammered a one-timer into the yawning Rockets cage.

Dowhaniuk already tripled his goal production from the regular season – after scoring just once in 66 contests, he has three goals in five playoff games in 2024.

“I am just keeping it simple sticking to my game, the boys are hyped and the crowds are amazing.”

“I stepped up in the neutral zone (on the 3-0 goal), and I saw Ziems (Koehn Ziemmer) get the puck and chip it past the defenceman and Perry made a nice play to Heidt and he laid it out for me on a platter.”

Borya Valis officially put the Cats into overdrive as Funk spotted the Colorado native who charged hard towards the net and re-directed the pass.

Prince George outshot Kelowna 33-21. Both teams a combined 0-for-4 on the power-play.

Josh Ravensbergen collected his 1st WHL playoff shutout after turning aside all 21 Kelowna shot attempts that came his direction.

The high-scoring Rockets trio of Tij Iginla, Andrew Cristall and Gabriel Szturc were held to just five shots on goal.

“They are really good players and they have two really good lines. They put up a lot of offense and you have to pay attention to those guys when they are out there. We have a matchup for that and the guys did a great job,” added Lamb.

“I liked the way we played in groups of five and Rav (Ravensbergen) had to be there – away from the puck it was one of the best games we have played.”

Hunter Laing returned to the Cougars lineup after missing six games due to an upper-body injury suffered late in the regular season against the Vancouver Giants.

Laing centered the fourth line with Aiden Foster and Jett Lajoie. Lajoie had a spirited fight with Rockets forward Brett Calhoun.

Puck drop for Game Two is set for tomorrow (Saturday) at 6pm from CN Centre.

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