Jesse Roach scored the winning goal midway through the third period on Sunday morning at CN Centre as the Cariboo Cougars completed a weekend sweep of the North Island Silvertips with a 5-2 win.
The Cougars over came a two-goal first period deficit to get their third win in four games and leapfrog the South Island Royals in the BCMML standings. At 8-7-1, the Cougars are now three points up on the Silvertips (6-8-2).
Riley Pettitt, Steven Jandric, Cole Morris and Greg Dakus also scored for the Cougars, while Lane Delfs made 25 saves to get the win between the pipes.
With the score tied 2-2 in the third and Silvertips captain Joe Surgenor in the penalty box, the Cougars got their first lead of the game. Isaiah Berra's shot was stopped by John Hawthorne, but Roach was hanging out at the side of the net and squeezed the rebound in for the game winner.
Morris and Dakus added empty net goals in the final minute to ice the victory.
Down 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Cougars rallied to tie the score in the second. First Pettitt faked a pass on a two-on-one break and elected to shoot, beating Hawthorne over the shoulder at 8:50. The goal came moments after defenceman Todd Bredo did a great job breaking up an odd-man rush by the Silvertips.
With less than two minutes to go in the stanza, the Cougars were awarded a two-man advantage and wasted no time taking advantage. Just 17 seconds into the five-on-three, Jandric converted a tic-tac-toe passing play to even the score at 18:36. Bryan Allbee and Dakus were credited with the assists.
The Hunter Findlater, Surgenor, Trent Bell trio did all the damage in the first period for the Silver-tips. Just over three minutes into the game Findlater spun around in the slot and fired a quick shot, Delfs made the save but Surgenor buried the rebound. Bell also picked up an assist.
At 15:56 Findlater found Bell cutting across the crease and Bell slid it home. Surgenor picked up the other assist.
The Silvertips had another great chance late in the period, but Delfs came up big stopping Grady McInnes on a clear-cut breakaway to keep the Cougars within striking distance.
The Cougars finished the night two for four on the power play, while the Silvertips came up empty on three man advantage chances.
Hawthorne made 21 saves in a losing effort.
The Cougars have six straight road games come up, beginning with a two-game set next weekend in Kelowna against the league-leading Okanagan Rockets. The team's next home game is Dec. 14 at 4:15 p.m. at CN Centre when they host the Greater Vancouver Canadians.
Chase Dubois scored a hat trick on Saturday afternoon at CN Centre as the Cariboo Cougars opened a weekend set against the North Island Silvertips with a 6-2 win.
The Steven Jandric, Jesse Roach and Isaiah Berra line also combined for three goals and eight points as Cariboo crept back up to the .500 mark with a 7-7-1 record and moved one point ahead of the Silvertips (6-7-2).
With the score tied 2-2 midway through the second, Dubois got his second of the game to put the Cougars in front for good. The play began with Cole Morris streaking down the left wing, but when he went to get a shot away his stick broke in half. Morris kept the play alive with his skates and eventually the puck worked its way in front to Dubois who beat Silvertips starter John Hawthorne with a backhand at 11:11.
Berra found the back of the net just over a minute later to give the Cougars a two-goal lead. The big forward cut in front of the net, got a shot away from the slot, collected his own rebound and beat Hawthorne.
After allowing four goals on 22 shots, Hawthorne made way for Liam Young in the Silvertips net. Young allowed two goals on 16 shots.
Jeremy Matte went the distance for the Cougars making 17 saves - including stopping a partial breakaway from Hunter Findlater and clearcut breakaway by Clayton Peace.
Dubois completed the hat trick on the power play in the third with a shot from the high slotat 5:56, Thomas Webster got the assist. Just over a minute later Jandric made it 6-2, with Roach picking up the assist at 7:25.
Jandric also opened the scoring at 6:42 of the first period when he dug around in the crease, eventually finding the rebound from a Roach shot and sliding it home before the net was knocked off its supports. Berra also picked up an assist on the play.
The goal came after the Cougars dominated the early moments of the first period, getting the first eight shots of the game and buzzing around the Silvertips zone with sustained pressure.
Dubois gave the Cougars a two-goal lead heading into the first intermission when his centering pass on the power play bounced off a body and into the net at 17:04. Scott Cullen got the lone assist.
Findlater scored twice early in the second to draw the Silvertips even. His first goal came on a nice individual effort weaving his way through the Cougars defence and lifting a shot over Matte at 2:15. He found the five-hole for his second of the night at 6:57.
The Cougars finished the night two for 11 on the power play, while the Silvertips failed to score on six man advantage chances.
The teams will complete the weekend set on Sunday at 10:15 a.m. at CN Centre.
The Cariboo Cougars would like to congratulate alumni Brad Morrison on being named to Team Pacific for the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. The event will take place in Nova Scotia December 29th to January 4th. Morrison has moved up to the Prince George Cougars this season. We wish Brad the best of luck!
The Cariboo Cougars can climb up a couple of rungs in the B.C. Major Midget League standings this weekend with a pair of wins over the visiting North Island Silvertips. "We really want to get on a roll and this is a huge weekend for us to get some more confidence," Cougars head coach Bryan MacLean said. "Coming out of last weekend, I thought we played well for two games and for it's just learning everyday."
A weekend sweep would allow the Cougars to shoot up from seventh to fifth in the BCMML standings, passing both the Silvertips and the idle South Island Royals. At 6-7-1 on the year, the Cougars have had trouble stringing together wins, but with a logjam developing in the middle of the pack, MacLean knows a winning streak now can quickly cure any early season woes. The Silvertips, 6-6-2, come into the weekend one point ahead of the Cougars and will be keen to put some distance between themselves and their northern rivals. "North Island is a good competitive team," MacLean said. "They're going to be ready to go."
The Cougars spent the first part of the week of practice on defensive zone coverage and their responsibilities in front of their own net. Later in the week the focus shifted to special teams. MacLean said he's looking for the line of Jesse Roach, Steven Jandric and Isaiah Berra to have continued success offensively, but he knows the Silvertips will be keying on stopping the Cougars' top point producers. "Teams are going to start taking notice and they're going to really focus on those guys," he said. "For us it's a matter of getting them on the ice when they're going to be successful."
The teams meet at CN Centre at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday and at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
As one of the few veterans on a team full of rookies, Cariboo Cougars captain Scott Cullen sees his role as helping many of his teammates adjust to life in the B.C. Major Midget League.
"I've just got to show the guys the ropes," the physical blue-liner said when asked to describe the leadership role he's taken on this year. "I'll echo the coaches a lot, they say a lot of good stuff, we just need to drill the coaches' words into the new guys' heads."
Cullen likes to lead by example on the ice and at practice. He values hard work and said his game is predicated on making the right play at the right time. Although he doesn't rack up huge offensive numbers, his consistent play allows coaches to use him in all situations.
The five-foot-nine, 170-pound Prince George product also likes to inject some energy into the game by throwing his weight around. His open-ice hitting ability was on display two weeks ago when the Cougars hosted Kootenay and Cullen separated two Ice players from the puck with clean checks.
With last year's experience under his belt, Cullen is more confident in his own abilities this year which he said has translated into a more comfortable style of play on the ice.
"It's fun to play with that extra year of confidence underneath me," he said.
Cullen admitted it's been a bumpy start for the Cougars who have grown accustomed to being near the top of the standings, but he's been impressed with how the team has grown over the first phase of the season and is looking forward to big things as the year goes on.
"We'll be good by the time the playoffs come, we'll be ready to go," he said.
The Cougars (6-7-1) are back on home ice this weekend as they host the North Island Silvertips for a pair at the CN Centre. The teams open the set on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. and will meet in the rematch on Sunday at 10 a.m.