The Cariboo Cougars are winless no more.
With a pair of ties already and still seeking its first victory after five games, the major midget hockey team pulled off a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Valley West Hawks Sunday at Kin 1. Cariboo Cougars forward RJay Berra was the hero, scoring the winning goal with only eight seconds left on the clock.
“I was pretty disappointed with our performance on Saturday night [a 4-1 loss],” Cariboo Cougars head coach Grant Williams said on Monday. “I think we dominated the first 10 minutes or so, and then they scored a goal that perhaps [goalie] Alex [Wright] would like to have back. From there we let it bother us too much and we never really recovered.
“But yesterday I was very proud of the boys. They bounced back 12 hours later with a lot of resolve. We controlled the game and we were leading going into the third, but we ended up with two or three two-man disadvantages which cost us and they tied it, but the boys kept working hard right till the end and they were rewarded. The boys deserved to win yesterday, so I was very happy for them.”
Also scoring for the Cougars in Sunday’s victory were Isaac Haack, Duncan Jordan, Nick Matte and Brett Connolly.
Clayton Bragg, seventh in B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring with four goals and four assists in six games, scored a goal and an assist on Sunday to lead the Hawks. Thomas Hardy, Kyle Golz and Carter Shinkaruk also scored for the visitors.
“The five goals we got yesterday were an offensive bonanza for us,” Williams said. “We anticipated that we would struggle scoring goals and we have.”
Connolly scored the lone Cougars goal on Saturday.
While Wright got the call on Saturday, Paul Simoes started in goal for the Cougars on Sunday.
“That winning feeling can be very elusive, and we found that,” Williams said. “We’ll see how much of an effect that win has on us next time we step on the ice Saturday in Vancouver [against the Greater Vancouver Canadians]. I think that one win can change your attitude, but it’s not necessarily a permanent thing. You have to keep on having successes before you really start to act and perform like you’re going to win each game you play.”
Sunday’s victory improved the Cougars’ record to 1-3-2 after six games, pulling them into a tie with the Hawks for eighth in the 11-team B.C. Major Midget Hockey League standings. The Hawks (2-4) hold the edge in victories.
The Vancouver Northwest Giants remain the only undefeated team in the league with a record of 6-0 to lead the way. The Canadians and Okanagan Rockets are tied for second with identical 4-2 records. The league’s top six teams qualify for playoffs.
The Cougars will meet the Canadians in the second of a two-game set Sunday before returning to Prince George. Their next action at Kin 1 comes Oct. 20 and 21, when they host the Kootenay Ice.