Bruins blitzed in Prince George

The Bruins hit the road Friday night, travelling to the snowy north for a matchup with the Prince George Cougars. After beating the Cougars 5-2 at home Wednesday night, the good guys had high hopes heading into this one.

But PG got off to a torrid start and the game was never in doubt as the Cougars earned a 7-3 decision at the CN Arena.

Penalty problems were the Bruins downfall in the opening frame as the Cougars went two-for-three with the man advantage.

PG’s first two goals came on the power play, with Jesse Forsberg opening the scoring just three minutes and thirty-three seconds in. Tim Traber (interference) watched from the penalty box as Forsberg took off on a nifty solo rush. Chilliwack keeper Lucas Gore made a nice stop on Forsberg’s initial shot, but put himself way out of position doing so. The 17-year-old defenceman picked up his own rebound and popped it home for his third of the year.

Brandon Manning (roughing) was in the box as the Cougars doubled their lead at 6:05. Coquitlam native James Dobrowolski pulled the trigger on a one-time feed from teammate Martin Marincin, blowing his 14th of the year past Gore.

Shots on goal were 12-2 in favour of PG at that point, but the Bruins cut into the lead two minutes later on a goal credited to rookie Brandon Magee. The Edmonton native worked hard for his seventh of the season, outracing Taylor Makin to the rebound from a Steven Hodges shot and poking it past Cougars keeper Ty Rimmer at 8:15.

Prince George had the last laugh in period one, with Juraj Valach burying his second of the year at 13:52. The Cougars struck for two more early in period two on back-to-back strikes by Taylor Stefishen and Nick Buonassisi.

Down 5-1, with their comeback hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads, but Bruins got a spark from an unlikely source.

Grinding winger T.C. Cratsenberg picked up the rebound from a Magee backhander and beat Rimmer at 13:07, scoring just his third of the year. When Ryan Howse notched his 28th less than two minutes later, Chilliwack suddenly seemed to have hope.

But Spencer Asuchuk put those comeback hopes to rest five minutes into the final frame. Tyler Stahl got spun off the puck behind the Bruins net, leaving Asuchak free to walk out front and beat Gore for his 16th of the year.

Stefishen added another at 9:57, getting his stick on a Forsberg point shot. Referee Chris Crich emphatically waved it off, saying Forsberg’s point shot had been knocked down with a high stick. But video review overturned the on-ice call, giving the Cougars a 7-3 lead.

With a record of 16-1-1-1 when leading through 40 minutes, Prince George was unlikely to cough up that lead, particularly against a Chilliwack team that came in with a record of 1-15-2-1 when trailing after 40 minutes.

Rimmer stopped six third period shots to record his 10th win of the season.

Three stars were Stefishen (first), Dobrowolski (second) and Forsberg (third).

These two teams hook up again Saturday night in Prince George. The next Bruins home game is Tuesday night as they host the Spokane Chiefs.