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HomeNewsDanis overtime magic gives Cougars gutsy playoff win in Kelowna

Danis overtime magic gives Cougars gutsy playoff win in Kelowna

Sometimes you must roll up your sleeves and get a little greasy to win on the road.

Matteo Danis played the role of overtime hero for the Prince George Cougars Tuesday night, pushing them within one win of round three of the 2024 WHL Playoffs.

The 19-year-old re-directed a Jett Lajoie pass that whistled by Kelowna Rockets goaltender Jari Kykkanen to preserve the 4-3 victory in front of a sparse crowd of 3,787 at Prospera Place.

Despite getting dinged for five penalties in the opening 20 minutes, Hudson Thornton got PG off on the right foot as his point blast on the power-play blew past Kykkanen to secure a 1-0 lead.

Ethan Neutens spoiled a seven-plus period streak of shutout hockey for Cougars rookie netminder Josh Ravensbergen as his one time shot from just outside the face-off circle went over the shoulder of the 17-year-old to even the score.

Ravensbergen’s shutout streak last 158:44, the longest playoff franchise history.

Less than a minute later, Michael Cicek gave Kelowna their first and only lead of the series as his fierce slap shot also beat Ravensbergen on the glove side to give the hosts a 2-1 edge.

A high-sticking infraction by Rockets blueliner Kayden Sadhra-Kang put the Cougars back on the power-play and once again, the top-seed in the Western Conference made them pay.

A slick feed from Thornton led to a vicious one-time blast by Ondrej Becher who lit the lamp against Kykkanen tying the game at 2-2 after two period.

In the third, a misplay behind the Rockets between Kykkanen, Carter Kowalyk and Martin Rocak led to an easy tap-in for Borya Valis at the side of the net putting the Cougars back in front at 3-2.

“We knew they were going to throw everything at us putting all three of their big guys together on one line. It put us to the test and we got into some penalty trouble but we stuck with it.”

“We weren’t the team we wanted to be tonight but great teams find a way to win and great on Laj and Danis to take the puck and give us a huge win on the road,” said Carter Rigby, Cougars assistant coach.

Tampa Bay Lightning signed prospect Gabriel Szturc forced overtime as his slot shot from a broken play, which was created by Andrew Cristall slipped past Ravensbergen.

The Rockets outshot PG 35-33 overall but failed to score on all five awarded power-plays while the Cougars cashed in twice on four tries on the man-advantage.

“Number two (Bauer Dumanski) puts his body on the line shift in and shift out and it’s not just him but everybody out there including Bechs (Becher). It was also good to see PP working, it’s been the back bone for us for a lot of the year so it’s nice to see that after a few tough stretches. Special teams win you games and playoff series,” added Rigby.

Carlin Dezainde (PG) and Hiroki Gosjic (Kelowna) were awarded game-misconducts for what was considered to be a staged fight by referees Corey Koop and Bobby Jo Love at 13:13 of the second period.

“It’s massive. I am so excited and a little bit shaky, but I am happy for everyone and those kids to step up team morale. It was fun to watch,” added Rigby.

Becher extended his point streak to 26 games due to his two-point outing.

PG leads the best of seven semi-final series 3-0 with Game Four set for tomorrow (Wednesday) at Prospera Place. Puck drop is at 7:05.

Valis and Terik Parascak are tied for the team lead in playoff goals with five each.

In the other Western Conference semi-final, the Portland Winterhawks also enjoy a 3-0 series lead against the Everett Silvertips. Game Four of that series is set for Friday from Angel of the Winds Arena.

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