Recap | Feb. 9 | Royals @ Cougars
Prince George, BC – As the 2023-24 season continues toward its conclusion, the Victoria Royals (25-19-4-4) traveled up north for the first of back-to-back meetings with the Prince George Cougars (34-15-0-2). These two sides will become familiar foes over the final month and a half of the season, meeting a total of four times in Victoria’s last 18 games. Coming into action, Victoria was aiming to snap a three-game slide, most recently falling 2-0 to the Kelowna Rockets, while Prince George was looking for their second straight victory after defeating the Kamloops Blazers 5-3 on Sunday evening.
Jayden Kraus made his second consecutive start for the Royals, aiming to replicate his 39-save performance from Wednesday evening, while Prince George countered with Joshua Ravensbergen.
Both sides pushed early as Prince George and Victoria aimed to earn the first goal of the contest. While the early push persisted, Kraus and Ravensbergen seemed up to the challenge. It wasn’t until the eighth minute mark of the first period that the game got its first entry on the scoresheet, with Victoria finding themselves on the man-advantage as Ephram McNutt sat in the penalty box for tripping. Victoria was unable to capitalize with the extra man as the game passed the midway point of the opening frame.
As the game neared the final moments of the opening stanza, Victoria found themselves short-handed for the first time. On the ensuing Cougars powerplay, they struck first. Hunter Laing (11) found himself in the right place at the right time, grabbing the puck right off a rebound in front of the blue paint of Kraus’ crease before lifting the puck high into the top corner. Carlin Rezainde and Borya Valis grabbed the assists on the opening goal for the Cougars.
That opening goal seemed to be a springboard of momentum for Prince George as they notched their second goal just moments later. Matteo Danis (6) earned the marker for the Cougars, getting the puck in the low slot before lifting it towards the net of Kraus and sneaking the puck through his arms and into the back of the net.
The late marker from Prince George was enough to send the game into the intermission with the Cougars carrying a two-goal lead and a 17-8 advantage on the shot clock.
Prince George carried their momentum into the middle frame, looking for more. They found their third goal off the stick of Ephram McNutt (2) as he joined the odd-man offensive rush toward the Royals’ net as he received a pass on a platter from Onrej Becker before unleashing on a wrist shot from between the face-off dots, beating Kraus to the blocker side.
Late in the second period, Victoria would get on the board. Deegan Kinniburgh (4) scored for the road side as the Royals pulled within a pair of goals. Kinniburgh was a prime example of keeping his stick on the ice as his linemate, Ben Riche, grabbed the puck at the blue line before weaving his way around the Cougars’ defense and finding Kinniburgh at the back door for a tap-in tally.
The Cougars would restore their three-goal lead midway through the final frame as Onrej Becher (19) notched his second point of the evening with their second powerplay goal of the contest. Becher earned the marker after a perfectly orchestrated entry into the offensive zone from Zac Funk and Tarik Parascak as they found Becher alone at the top of the face-off dot where he slotted a wrist shot into the far corner.
That was the final entry into the game log as Prince George captured the 4-1 victory.