Bruins climb closer with win over Cougars

Robin Soudek had two goals in regulation time plus the shootout winner as the Chilliwack Bruins edged the Prince George Cougars 4-3 at Prospera Centre Sunday night.In a must-win game, the home team kept their playoff hopes afloat, rallying from a third period deficit to earn a crucial two points. Brett Connolly was rolling in period one, staking his Cougars to an early two-goal lead. The Tampa Bay Lightning first round draft pick opened the scoring at 3:39, sniping his 39th of the year on the first shot of the game. Working one on one against Chilliwack’s Brandon Manning on a rush down the left wing, Connolly snapped an NHL-calibre shot top shelf over Gore’s glove. The Prince George native struck again at 18:30, side-stepping Kevin Sundher at the point, walking down main street and firing a low shot through a crowd for his 40th.Down by a pair, the Bruins got a late gift when PG blueliner Sena Acolatse took a two minute minor. On the power play, Roman Horak fed a cross-crease pass to Soudek, who chipped a backhander past Cougar keeper Ty Rimmer for his 19th of the year.Shots on goal in period one favoured Prince George 14-6.Chilliwack drew even 3:25 into the middle frame on another goal by Soudek. Horak won a faceoff in the PG zone and Soudek fired a shot from the right-wing boards that evaded Rimmer through a screen.  But the 19-year-old Czech had less than three minutes to enjoy the game-tying goal before the Cougars regained the lead.Saskatchewan native Tayler Thompson pulled the trigger on a setup from Wilson Dumais. Dumais nabbed a Mitch Topping turnover in the right corner and backhanded a centering pass to Thompson. Gore made the first save, but not the second as Thompson got his second of the year. Gore came up with a massive save late in the period as Connolly stormed in on a shorthanded breakaway. The 18-year-old tried a glove-side wrister, but Chilliwack’s keeper flashed the leather to keep the puck out and keep his team within one.Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Prince George 28-20.The Bruin comeback bid was slowed by third period penalties, with two Tyler Stahl minors (kneeing and interference) chewing up four minutes.The good guys struggled to create chances at even-strength, but they only needed one to tie, and got it at 10:31. Sundher earned a big assist with a just-put-it-on-net shot from the very high slot that led to some chaos in the crease. Rimmer made a stop on Jamie Crooks, but couldn’t thwart Brandon Magee, who potted the rebound for his 12th of the year.The Bruins had to come up with a couple of late penalty kills to get to overtime. Soudek (interference) and Horak (slashing) were flagged on back-to-back fouls, but the closest the Cougars came to snapping the deadlock was a Nick Buonassisi shot off the left goal-post.Chilliwack had the last power play opportunity regulation time as Taylor Makin took down Gore on a trip through the goal crease. Rimmer made one big stop on a Howse backhander, and that was enough to get the game to OT.The best chances in the extra session belonged to the Bruins, with Horak and Sundher both getting good looks at the PG net. At the other end, Stahl almost directed a loose puck into his own cage, but Gore alertly bailed his blueliner out.Five minutes solved nothing, landing the teams in a shootout.Chilliwack’s Sundher and Howse traded misses with PG’s Acolatse and Connolly setting the stage for Soudek’s heroics. The Czech came in with speed and wired a glove-side wrister past Rimmer. Gore provided one final save, kicking out his right leg to stop Charles Inglis.The three stars were Soudek (first) Connolly (second) and Sundher (third).The Bruins return to action Wednesday night, hosting the Lethbridge Hurricanes at 7 p.m.

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