The Prince George Cougars can head home knowing that they’ve played two strong games against the Victoria Royals.
But with that said, the Cougars are heading home down 2-0 in their first round series. Saturday night in Victoria, the Cougars trailed 2-0, 3-1, and 4-3 and yet with five minutes remaining in the third period the game was tied 4-4. But for a second straight night, 20-year-old Brandon Magee was the difference maker. He broke open the 4-4 tie with his second of the game at 15:47 of the third to help secure the Game 2 victory for the Victoria Royals. Tate Olson led the response with two goals of his own, and Joe Carvalho, Brad Morrison and Jansen Harkins all had two assists for the Cougars who outshot the Royals 34-25 in the loss.
After one period the Royals led 1-0. Jack Walker notched the game’s first goal at the 13:57 mark of the first off his own rebound from in front of the Cougars goal. Despite trailing 1-0, the Cougars largely dictated the play and outshot the Royals 13-8. Royals netminder Coleman Vollrath was the difference in the first as he made a series of big saves, especially late in the frame.
Tyler Soy moved the Royals lead to 2-0 with an early goal at the 3:20 mark of the second off an odd-man rush with Greg Chase, but the Cougars quickly countered with a marker of their own, and for the fourth time in the series already the power play was responsible.
With less than 10 seconds remaining on a Cougars power play, Tate Olson skated the puck across the blueline into the slot, and fired a low shot past the blocker of Coleman Vollrath for his second goal in as many games. Olson’s goal was assisted by both Brad Morrison and Joe Carvalho.
A few shifts later, Coleman Vollrath made a breakaway save off of Chase Witala to keep Victoria ahead by a goal. The game would stay that way until the 15:11 mark of the second, when Greg Chase took a Jack Walker pass from in close, and snuck it under a sliding Ty Edmonds and in for his second goal of the series.
Back came the Cougars though with a response of their own when Zach Pochiro won a race to a loose puck along the left wing wall. He slid a pretty pass to Jansen Harkins who then returned the pass to Pochiro who one-timed it past a diving Vollrath for his first of the series, and the first Cougars even-strength goal in five playoff periods.
It was a big goal for the Cougars who went into the final period down by just one goal as opposed to two, and it didn’t take long for the Cougars to tie the score come the third.
Once again it was the power play that come through for the Cougars, and once again it was second-year defenceman Tate Olson that had the answer. Olson blasted a point-shot through traffic and past Vollrath for his third of the series, and the Cougars were back even with the score tied 3-3.
The Victoria Royals would regain their lead at 11:51 of the third, and after two relatively quiet periods, Brandon Magee made an impact for the Royals. Magee won a puck-battle at the side of the Cougars net, skated in alone on Edmonds, skated past his poke-check and tucked the puck into the open net for his fourth of the series.
Once again though, the Cougars had an answer. With a delayed Victoria penalty upcoming, Jansen Harkins fired a shot on goal. Vollrath kicked his rebound right out to Chase Witala at the side of the goal, who made no mistake tucking home a low shot underneath the diving Vollrath for his second of the series, and yet again the game was tied 4-4.
Less than two minutes later Victoria restored the lead though when Brandon Magee took an Alex Forsberg pass and snuck a wrist shot past Ty Edmonds’ blocker off a three-on-two rush, and at 15:47 of the third period the Royals grabbed what would ultimately be their final lead of the game.
The Cougars power play was deadly again going two-for-six, and the penalty kill was flawless for a second game going two-for-two. Compete-wise, the Cougars were full marks once again, but are heading home to Prince George down 2-0 in the series against the veteran-laden Victoria Royals. They’ll look to hold serve on home ice starting Wednesday night in Prince George in front of what is expected to be a packed house at the CN Centre.
– Prince George Cougars