When you play down to your competition, bad things usually happen.
A pair of late power-play goals with an empty net and a shootout winner by Brayden Schuurman led the Victoria Royals to a dramatic 7-6 victory against the Prince George Cougars on Saturday in front of 2,836 fans at CN Centre.
Down 4-2 heading into the third period, the Cougars came out like a team possessed. Bauer Duamnski capped off a strong opening shift, capitalizing on a Carlin Dezainde pass to make it a one goal game. PG continued to come in waves, four minutes later as Koehn Ziemmer set up Zac Funk for his 25th of the season to knot the game at 4-4.
The CN Centre crowd went into a frenzy shortly after as this time it was Funk who set up Riley Heidt, who finished off a three-way scoring play to put the Cougars up by a goal. Heidt began the transition sequence by utilizing a between the legs pass before accepting a return feed just outside the victory crease.
Heidt continued his wizardry with the puck setting the table for Ziemmer collected his 40th of the season to give the Cougars what seemed to be a 6-4 stranglehold 10:36 remaining in the third period.
However, the game got turned on its head once more as Funk took a double minor for high-sticking. Victoria coach Dan Price pulled goaltender Nicholas Cristano for the 6-4 advantage and it paid off in spades. After a keep in by Justin Kipke, Reggie Newman teed up a pass for Teague Patton who fired a blast that beat Ty Young to make it 6-5.
With six seconds remaining, Kipke again assisted on the game-tying marker as he slid a pass to Kalem Parker who found Schuurman who dialed up his second of the game to force overtime.
Heidt, Ziemmer and Chase Wheatcroft all missed on their shootout attempts while Schurrman was the only player to convert for Victoria.
The win snaps a 12-game losing streak (0-11-1) for the Royals (15-43-6-1) as well as an eight-game slide against the Cougars.
Caden Brown struck first at the 13:36 mark of the first period as his wrist shot squirted past Cristiano to give the PG a 1-0 lead.
Following an elbowing penalty to Blake Eastman, Nate Misskey drew Victoria on even terms with a seeing-eye wrist shot on the power-play that fooled Cougars netminder Ty Young.
Luke Rybinski put the Royals ahead at the 1:17 of the second period – his first of the season was assisted by affiliate forward Deegan Kinniburgh and Reggie Newman.
Ziemmer notched his first of two goals exactly six minutes later as he was the recipient of another Heidt pass. However, the Cougars luck would go from bad to worse for the remainder of the middle period as Schuurmann came in on a 2-on-1 rush and went bar down on Young to put Victoria back in the driver’s seat. Off another transition play an intended pass by Riley Gannon deflected off the stick of Hudson Thornton to make it 4-2 Royals.
Victoria outshot the Cougars 40-34 overall and went 3-for-6 on the power-play. PG went 0-for-4.
Heidt, Ziemmer, Funk, Keaton Dowhaniuk and Carlin Dezainde all had multi-point efforts in defeat.
Parker, Schuurman and Newman also tallied multi-point games for Victoria.
The Cougars (35-24-6-1) finish off the regular season with a home and home against the Kamloops Blazers (47-11-4-2).
Friday’s matchup is at Sandman Centre while both teams finish off the weekend with a Saturday date at CN Centre.
Home playoff games for round one at CN Centre are set for March 31st and April 1st and go on sale to the public on Tuesday. PG will either play the Tri-City Americans or Everett Silvertips.
Cougars forward Chase Wheatcroft, the second leading scorer in the WHL, signed a 3-year entry-level NHL contract with the Dallas Stars.
EXCITING NEWS! The Cougars are excited to announce that Chase Wheatcroft has signed a three-year entry level contract with the @DallasStars!
📝 https://t.co/ChtEzoQIyT#ForTheNorth • #WHL pic.twitter.com/8xkWSqboy3
— x – Prince George Cougars (@PGCougars) March 18, 2023