The Prince George Cougars crept quietly into Prospera Place and snuck out with a 2-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night.
Grounding the Rockets’ high-flying offence, which is averaging a B.C. Division-best four goals a game, was Prince George’s penalty kill.
Kelowna went 0-for-5 on the power play as the Rockets outshot their visitors 30-18.
“I think that our group was outbattled in all facets of the game,” said Rockets head coach Kris Mallette.
“We were outside on the perimeter a lot, just kind of forcing plays and really just not getting a lot done.”
To add insult to injury, the Cougars’ winning goal was a short-handed marker.
Cougars centre Koehn Ziemmer opened the scoring at 7:08 of the first period, beating Rockets goalie Cole Schwebius glove-side with a floating backhand shot from the slot. The goal came following a turnover in the Rockets’ defensive zone.
At 5:23 of the second, Connor Bowie pushed Prince George’s lead to 2-0. Carrying the puck down the right side on a 2-on-1, Bowie beat Schwebius with a far-side wrister from inside the faceoff circle.
The goal also came after Hudson Thornton hit the post during a Prince George power play just 2:40 into the frame.
Mark Liwiski eventually got the Rockets on the board with 4:22 left to play in the game.
“Our start, we fell flat,” Liwiski said of Kelowna’s effort.
“I think also everyone, together from myself here on out and everyone from the back end on out, wasn’t ready to go,”
However, Liwiski’s goal was his ninth goal of the season. With Kelowna having played just 12 games, nine goals is proof that his hard work in the offensive zone is paying off.
“I think I just need to keep going to the net, and hopefully the puck goes in off my stick,” said Liwiski, the game’s third star.
Prince George goalie Taylor Gauthier, who stopped 29 shots, was the game’s first star. Bowie was the second star.
Schwebius finished with 16 saves. Prince George was also 0-for-3 on the power play.
“Credit to Prince George, they came hard and were able to hound us all night long, Mallette said.
Kelowna (8-3-1-0) is fourth in B.C. Division standings with 17 points. With the win, Prince George (87-2-1) has 19 points, though the third-place Cougars have played six more games. Kamloops (14-4-0-0) is first with 28 points while Vancouver (10-8-0-0) is second with 20. Victoria (2-14-1-1) is fifth and last with 6 points.
The Rockets are back in action on Friday when they’ll head to Kamloops to take on the Vancouver Giants.