Recap | Feb. 10 | Royals @ Cougars
Prince George, BC – It was a Saturday night clash at the CN Centre in Prince George as the Victoria Royals (25-20-4-4) squared off with the Prince George Cougars (35-15-0-2) for the second time in as many nights. Victoria was aiming to end the road swing on a positive as well as snapping their losing skid, while the Cougars were on the hunt for their third straight victory.
Between the pipes, Braden Holt returned to the crease for Victoria, while the Cougars went with Joshua Ravensbergen for the second consecutive night.
Prince George opens the game with a point to prove as they turned up the offence in the early stages of the contest. Hunter Laing (9,10) doubled up on a pair of goals within three minutes of each other. Laing has flourished against the Royals this season, putting up four games through the six games played during the 2023-24 season.
Victoria slowed down the momentum late in the opening frame as Reggie Newman (15) cut the Cougars lead in half with a short-handed marker. The big winger made his way into the offensive zone with Tanner Scott by his side as the two forwards worked a perfectly played two-on-one rush. Newman showcased his hands in tight as he dazzled around Young after receiving a feathered pass from Scott.
The Cougars would retaliate quickly, as they earned two more tallies in the final four minutes of the period. Zac Funk (47) showed off his shooting hands as he restored the Cougars two goal lead and his cushion atop the WHL scoring race. Moments later, it was the WHL Rookie scoring leader, Terik Parascak (31) beating Braden Holt to give Prince George a three goal lead heading into the middle frame.
Victoria came out in the second period looking like a new team as they had some carry over powerplay time to work with. Justin Kipkie (16) continued his breakout season as he buried a wrist shot from the blue-line on the man-advantage. Kipkie received a perfect pass from Dawson Pasternak who teed up Kipkie for the shot which found away by Ravensbergen.
Under a minute later, Victoria would add their third of the evening. Tanner Scott (19) earned his second point of the evening as he pulled the Royals within one goal. Scott grabbed a loose puck and drove to the net before placing a back-handed effort over the shoulder of Ravensbergen and into the top corner.
Victoria would find the equalizer midway through the second stanza as Jaren Brinson (2) picked the right place, and the right time to grab his first goal as a Royal. The former Cougar made his bid for the highlight of the night, as the blueliner got the puck at the half-wall and dashed towards the Cougars net. En route to the net, Brinson was tripped, but that didn’t slow him down as he offered his best Bobby Orr impression by firing a wrist shot while flying through the air and lifting the puck by Ravensbergen.
As the period neared the final minutes, the Royals continued to push, and it would pay off. Casper Evensen Haugen (10) became the latest Royal to enter the double-digit goal club as he gave the road side their first lead of the contest. His shot from in tight was perfectly placed over the shoulder of Ravensbergen and slotted into the back-bar as the crowd at the CN Centre was stunned with four straight goals from Victoria.
Just as the first intermission did, the break in between periods provided one of the two teams with a hard reset, Prince George was the team to benefit from it this time around. The Cougars stormed out of the gates in the final frame with three goals in the first seven minutes. Zac Funk (48) grabbed the equalizer just prior to the four-minute mark with his second of the evening. Borya Valis (16) would restore the Cougars lead, and Zac Funk (49) would complete the hat-trick just moments later as Prince George made it a two-goal lead.
The high-scoring affair would continue as the period progressed with Prince George continuing to pour it on. Borya Valis (17) and Ephram McNutt (3) added on for the Cougars near the midway mark of the period, extending their lead to four goals.
Victoria would add one more goal late in the third period as Ben Riche (14) made it a three goal game with 15 seconds remaining in the contest. The Cougars would go on to take this one by a 9-6 decision.