Cougars open with a pre-season win

in Other News


September 2, 2017

Vladislav Mikhalchuk scored twice and Kody McDonald scored late, as the Prince George Cougars topped the Edmonton Oil Kings 3-2 in WHL pre-season action at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta.


McDonald snapped a 2-2 tie in the third, as he tracked a bouncing puck to the net, where he quickly shoveled it through the pads of Oil Kings’ goaltender Boston Bilous with just six-minutes left.

Mikhalchuk (Minsk, Belarus), who was the Cougars pick (54th overall) in the 2017 CHL import draft, staked PG out to a 2-0 lead going into the third period. The Belarussian opened the scoring in the first period on the power-play, finding the puck at the side of the net, and tapping it in at 7:31.

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead into the intermission despite outshooting the Oil Kings 14-5 in the opening frame. Head Coach Richard Matvichuk liked his team’s start.

“I really liked our team’s jump in the first period and I thought we should have had more than just one. We had (Aaron) Boyd and (Dennis) Cholowski hit the post and (Joel) Lakusta just missed a backdoor pass. It was great start considering it was period one of our pre-season”

The Cougars were tested in the opening minutes of the middle stanza, as they went down two skaters after back-to-back penalties. PG dug in their heels and managed to kill-off the nearly two-minutes of five-on-three time for Edmonton. That sequence provided them a spark as Nikita Popugaev had a chance to put the Cougars up by two.

The New Jersey Devils draft pick was sprung on a breakaway, after taking a pass up the middle from just outside the Oil Kings end. The big Russian barreled down the middle but couldn’t stuff the puck in between the goalie’s legs on a quick deke.

Mikhalchuk finally provided the Cougars with some breathing room in that middle frame, roofing a cross-ice pass from Jared Bethune up and under the cross-bar at 16:46. Bethune also assisted on Mikhalchuk’s first period goal.

Prince George ran into some early penalty trouble in the third period and that opened the door for the Oil Kings. Edmonton cut into the Cougars lead at 4:39 when Brett Kemp beat Brock Hamm over the glove from out front. Then less than two-minutes later, on another Edmonton man-advantage, it was Conner McDonald hammering a point-shot over Hamm’s shoulder at 6:38.

The two teams were locked into a 2-2 tie until the final few minutes of the third when McDonald pounced on a loose puck. The puck came off the right-wing boards and bounced back out front of the Oil Kings net. McDonald was first to it and didn’t waste time, forcing it through the wickets of the Edmonton netminder at 13:55 for the game-winning goal.

Score: 3-2 Cougars

Shots: 30-24 Cougars

Power-Plays: Cougars 1-4 Oil Kings 2-4

PG continues their exhibition weekend in Red Deer on Saturday, when they take on the Calgary Hitmen at 3 pm MT / 2 pm PT. After that, the pre-season continues with three more games in Langley next weekend against Vancouver, Victoria and Everett.