Listen Live

Listen Live

HomeNewsThornton's hot stick puts Cougars back in the win column against Spokane

Thornton’s hot stick puts Cougars back in the win column against Spokane

Sometimes the best offense is a great defence.

Hudson Thornton continued his torrid scoring stretch with two goals while Ethan Samson and Viliam Kmec potted singles giving the Prince George Cougars a 5-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs Friday night in front of 2,231 fans at CN Centre.

“There was really no need to panic when they tied the game up in the second period. Spokane is a hard working team, they have a lot of skill and they can put you on your toes. We are starting to mature in games like that and we are starting to learn how to play and that’s learning how to win,” said Mark Lamb, Cougars head coach and general manager.

Thornton wasted little time lighting the lamp as he took a Chase Wheatcroft feed and beat Chiefs netminder Cooper Michaluk for a 1-0 lead. Ten minutes later, a spectacular individual effort by Cole Dubinsky, while shorthanded, doubled the gap for PG.

- Advertisement -

Before the intermission, Spokane cut the deficit in half courtesy of Cade Hayes who found a way to sneak one through Cats goalie Ty Young on the power-play.

Spokane continued its push well into the second as Carter Streek put the visitors on even terms, capitalizing on a pass from Italian import Tomaso De Luca.

However, the Cougars showed their maturity towards the end of the period. PG struck twice in less than a minute as Thornton collected his second of the game and 20th of the season.

This was followed up by a Kmec blast that handcuffed Michaluk, giving the Cougars a 4-2 cushion at the break.

“The last five minutes of the second cost us,” said Chiefs head coach Ryan Smith.

“We were playing pretty good, killed a couple penalties and just lost coverage in our own end on back to back shifts. It’s pretty tough to go down to a top team like that. I liked our push in the third and had some opportunities but Young was good and we didn’t get enough bodies in front of him.”

Thornton, a 19-year-old from Winnipeg is fifth among WHL blueliners with 62 points this season.

“The contributions from our blueline have been there all year,” said Lamb.

- Advertisement -

“We have strong play from the back end and Thornton has been on a tear the last three games and has been scoring the goals for us leading the way. That is not the way we write it up but we sure welcome it and we are looking our D stepping up in the play and getting those goals,”

Kmec’s seventh of the WHL campaign was set up by fellow European Ondrej Becher.

The Cougars suffocated Spokane in the third period, outshooting them by a 16-8 margin.

To put the exclamation point on the evening Samson flipped a puck towards an empty net shorthanded where it had enough draw to tickle the twine.

PG outshot Spokane 46-22 overall. The Cougars also went 1-for-5 on the power play while also netting two shorthanded markers.

Young made 20 saves to pick up his 13th win in between the pipes. Michaluk made 41 saves in defeat for Spokane and was named the game’s 3rd star. Cougars over ager Jaxsen Wiebe, who was recently signed by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, recorded one assist and went 9-for-17 in the faceoff circle.

With the victory, the Cougars improved to 30-24-4 on the season, maintaining their slim one point edge on fourth place in the Western Conference.

The re-tooling Everett Silvertips kept pace with PG thanks to a resounding 10-3 win over the Portland Winterhawks. The Winterhawks are now winless in their last eight games (0-7-0-1).

- Advertisement -

Spokane drops to 13-38-3-4, last in the conference but are 4-4-1-1 in their last ten games.

It’s been a year of growing pains for the Chiefs but Smith likes the signs of life the team has shown down the stretch.

“The month of February was a strong month for us and the type of hockey you see at this time of year whether you are in the playoffs or not everybody is fighting for points. Some of the teams we have played are jockeying for first or second or the Cougars case fourth. Those are hard games but a good test to give our young guys ice time in certain situations and they have shown up most of the time.”

“Living it is not easy (rebuilding). It is not easy for the staff, it is not easy for the players but I give them credit they come to work every day and we are playing our best hockey now and it’s come full circle from mid-October to where we are now.”

The Cougars wrap up a four-game homestand tonight (Saturday) against Spokane. Puck drop is at 6pm from the CN Centre.

- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -
- Advertisement -

Continue Reading