Howse leads Bruins past Cougars

It has now reached the point of absurdity.

Ryan Howse has always liked playing against his hometown team. He always seems to have an extra hop in his step when he plays Prince George.

But this season, he’s tormented the Cougars well beyond reasonable limits. In a pair of mid-week games in Prince George, both 7-4 wins for his Bruins, Howse racked up five goals and an assist.

He has 12 goals in eight games against PG this season, and seems to morph into an unstoppable force against the Cougars.

“I just have, I guess, some luck against them and that’s how it gets sometimes,” he told the Prince George Free Press. “You get lucky against certain teams, you get hot against certain teams and I remember last year, Brett Connolly was hot against us. Maybe things switched over this year.”

Bruins fans can only hope the 18-year-old can use the Cougars as a spring-board to great things as the team plays its final two regular season games this weekend and heads into the post-season.

Before the trip to PG, Howse had gone goal-less in four straight and was struggling to get back into a groove.

He was quick to credit linemate Roman Horak for turning things around. The Czech drew assists on three of his five goals in Prince George.

“I’ve just found that chemistry with Roman this year,” Howse said. “He’s a great player who has great vision. He finds me out there and that helps a lot. I couldn’t say enough about him and obviously the other guys that are out there on the ice with me at the time where I get the goals or assists or what not, so it’s really good.”

Offensively, the Bruins were golden against the Cougars.

Defensively, neither game was a work of art.

On Tuesday night, Chilliwack built up a 5-2 lead, only to take their collective skates off the gas and let the Cougars claw back.

It was 5-4 before late goals by Howse and McKinlay put things to bed. On Wednesday night, the Bruins led 4-1 in the second period before letting the Cougars back into it.

PG narrowed the gap to 4-3 before falling apart again in the third period.

“It was a little scrappy on our part,” Howse admitted. “It’s not the greatest building to play in because the fans aren’t always there. It kind of drains us a little bit and we kind of seem to back off a little bit. But we let them hang around and we kept scoring after they did, but we can’t let that happen moving forward.”

Moving forward, the Bruins host the Portland Winter Hawks tonight before travelling to Everett tomorrow for the regular season finale.

Then, it’s on to the playoffs against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The Silvertips, currently sitting third in the conference, are a distinct possibility.

“Those are going to be playoff-like games and we could face Everett right at the start of the playoffs,” Howse noted. “But we’re going in with the same mindset as every other game. We’re just going to work hard and we’ll take the end result.”

The Bruins and Winter Hawks have met three times previously this season.

Chilliwack took the first two by scores of 5-4 and 6-4, but Portland had the last laugh with a 3-1 win Jan. 9.

The Bruins have had absolutely no luck with Saturday’s opponent, losing all three meetings to the Silvertips this season.