With the shots grossly in favour of the Vancouver Giants, it would have been easy for the Prince George Cougars to give up and play for another day.

However, the heroic efforts of Josh Maser and Taylor Gauthier kick-started the Cats to help them escape with a thrilling 5-4 victory on Friday in front of 2,497 fans at CN Centre.

Gauthier was stellar in between the pipes again for PG turning aside 38 Vancouver shots while Maser picked up his second career WHL hat-trick, pulling the Cougars within seven points of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The 20-year-old’s first hat-trick was actually a four-goal effort against Vancouver.

After the game, Maser spoke with MyPGNow.com about the team’s offensive success as well as his goalie.

“They were trying to wing it out along the wall and our d-men did a good job of keeping the puck in and getting shots through and to the net and that’s where I have to go to work is in front of the net and as long as they can get it there, I will do my job.”

“I can’t say enough about the way he (Gauthier) has been playing lately, it definitely helps a lot on any team when you have a goalie back there that you can trust and lean on. I mean, he’s one of the best goalies in the league so we have to take advantage of that and help him out a little bit more by doing our part on the offensive side,”

At one point, the Cougars were outshot 26-3 including an 18-3 margin after the first period.

The game certainly had its fair share of momentum swings.

Jonny Hooker put the Cougars on the board first as he handcuffed Giants netminder Trent Miner.

Vancouver responded with less than three minutes to go in the first period as Michal Kvasnica replied with his ninth of the season from Holden Katzalay and Cole Shepard.

In the second, both teams opened up their offence with a combined four goals as Bowen Byram and Tyler Preziuso lit the lamp for the Giants while Maser and Majid Kaddoura kept PG on even terms.

Maser continued to be a force in the third period scoring his 27th and 28th goals of the season past Miner.

Despite outshooting Prince George 43-20 in the game along with a 2-for-4 showing on the power-play, Giants Head Coach Michael Dyck believes a certain penalty call in the second period changed the complexion of the game.

“We lost momentum by taking some penalties in the second period, obviously that too many men call hurt us, we lost the momentum after that and we didn’t have the same push in the second half of the game as we did in the first period.”

“We got to be more disciplined but at the end of the day, we want to generate the same amount of shots but maybe more quality shots. We will build on the positives and fix what needs to be fixed.”

Colorado Avalanche top-prospect and Giants star defenceman Bowen Byram agreed with Dyck that a lot of their chances were to the outside and not of the Grade A variety.

“We got a lot of shots from the perimeter and they did a good job of keeping us to the outside but we have to tip our hat to them. They played really well and they capitalized on their chances.”

Miner took the loss in goal for Vancouver allowing five goals on 20 shots but Byram believes they didn’t play well enough in front of him.

“We were losing battles in front of the net, they were getting to loose pucks first and our goalie was down and out, we rely on him to make the first save but the second and third are up to us to clear.”

This is the second win this week for the Cougars against a team with a winning record as they also beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes 2-0 on Wednesday.

Defenceman Jack Sander states the Giants often bring out the best in them.

“They are a division rival and I think it’s also the fact they have a lot of good guys, it makes a lot of guys step up on our team to shut those guys down and I think we did that well.”

“We talked about it lots in the team room and we still have a chance here. Seattle lost again tonight (6-0 to Kelowna) so that is big for us and we are taking it one game at a time so we’ll see what happens.”

PG went 2-for-3 on the power-play and improved to 19-34-4-4 while the Giants dropped to 32-24-3-2.

Both teams play again tonight at 7 pm from CN Centre as it’s Fan Appreciation Night.