Chiefs Double Cougars 6-3.
By 250 News
Saturday night in Spokane, the Prince George Cougars dropped a 6-3 score to the Spokane Chiefs. Mike Aviani had a goal and four assists for Spokane while Mitch Homberg added two goals and two assists. Todd Fiddler countered with a goal and two assists for the Cougars in a losing cause.
Nearly 9000 fans lined the stands of the Spokane Arena for Teddy Bear Toss night, and they didn’t have to wait long to throw their bears. Just 4:35 into the first, the league leading goal scorer Mitch Holmberg blocked a point shot and then raced back towards the Cougars goal down the right wing. Holmberg toe-dragged the puck to the middle and fired a shot on goal. Ty Edmonds made the initial save, but Holmberg snuck home his own rebound for his 36th of the season.
After a 20-minute delay for teddy bear cleanup, the Chiefs picked up right where they left off thanks to some undisciplined play from the visitors.
Adam Helewka increased Spokane’s lead to 2-0 when he pounced on a rebound in the slot and lifted a backhander past Edmonds for his 15th of the season. Helewka’s goal came on a power play and was assisted by both Mike Aviani and Mitch Holmberg.
Moments later the lead increased to 3-0 when Jeremy McIntosh scored on a deflected shot from the left point. His goal came immediately after a faceoff victory in the Cougars zone.
Mike Aviani then made it 4-0 on a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play with his linemates Adam Helewka and Mitch Holmberg. Helewka received a pass in the neutral zone, and one-touched passed the puck through traffic to the streaking Holmberg who beat the defense and skated in two-on-none with Aviani. Holmberg slid a pass across the crease to the waiting Aviani for his 25th of the season.
Prince George responded with a better effort in the second period, and would eventually be rewarded at the 9:59 mark and once again the trio of Jordan Tkatch, Klarc Wilson and Todd Fiddler kickstarted the Cougars attack.
Jordan Tkatch converted off a Todd Fiddler pass from directly in front of Spokane goaltender Eric Williams for his eighth goal of the season. That goal helped increase the point streaks for Tkatch, Fiddler and Wilson.
Just over two minutes later the Cougars inched closer when Troy Bourke raced down the left wing while shorthanded and was able to sneak one past Eric Williams. Bourke was trying to center a pass to Todd Fiddler, but the puck deflected off a Spokane defender and in. For Bourke it was his 13th of the season and his team-high third shorthanded goal of the season.
Todd Fiddler then moved the Cougars back within one on a great individual effort at the 16:32 mark of the second. Fiddler was able to force his way past the Spokane defender and lifted one over Williams’ stick and in for his 15th of the season.
Prince George continued to apply pressure in the final minutes of the second, but Alex Forsberg hit the crossbar, and Eric Williams made the necessary saves to keep his team ahead through 40 minutes.
The Cougars continued to apply pressure in the first five minutes of the third, but Spokane was able to kill off an early Cougars power play, and maintained their one goal cushion.
Spokane regained their two goal lead at 9:15 of the third when Jeff Rayman snuck a point shot through traffic and in from the left point. Rayman’s first ever goal in the WHL would prove to be a backbreaker for the Cougars who were unable to bounce back from another two goal deficit.
Mitch Holmberg added a late power play to increase his league leading goal total to 37 and from there the Chiefs would hang on for their 20th victory of the 2013-2014 season.
Special teams were another big factor in the end result, as Spokane finished three-for-eight on the power play while the Cougars finished zero-for-three on their chances.
Through 36 games, the Cougars record now sits at 13-18-2-3. The loss keeps them six points back of the Tri-City Americans for eighth place in the Western Conference standings. Now the Cougars have one game remaining before their holiday break, which goes Sunday night in Vancouver.
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