In their first game after the Christmas break, a short-handed Chilliwack Bruins squad handed the Prince George Cougars a 3-0 home-ice loss. Missing Roman Horak and Robin Soudek (World Juniors) and rookies Brandon Magee and Steven Hodges (World U-17), the Bruins (17-14-2-1) persevered and moved to within two points of the second-place Cougars (18-15-2-1) in the B.C. division standings.
With four key offensive players out of the lineup, several players found themselves playing more minutes in unfamiliar roles. Third liner Mike Forsyth found himself logging second-unit power play minutes and seized the opportunity, opening the scoring at 10:56 of period one.
With PG defenceman Cody Carlson serving two minutes for slashing, Forsyth did what he does best. The 19-year-old Calgary native crashed the crease and hacked home the rebound from a Mitch Topping point shot, notching his fifth of the year.
Topping doubled the lead 8:51 into period two with a softie.
Just trying to put the puck on net, Topping’s seemingly harmless shot from the left wing boards caught Cougar keeper Ty Rimmer napping. The puck fluttered over his shoulder, giving the 17-year-old blueliner his third of the year.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Chilliwack 18-14.
At the other end of the ice, Bruins netminder Lucas Gore was working on a lengthy shutout streak. Coming into the game having not allowed a goal in 80 minutes and 37 seconds (since 19:27 of the second period in a 3-1 loss to Red Deer Dec. 15) , Gore added another 60 minutes and 29 saves to his total, recording his second shutout of the season.
He earned it in the third period, making a handful of key saves. His best might have come off Charles Inglis, who had a great chance in front after the puck took a lively and unexpected bounce off the end boards.
Gore was instrumental as the Bruins killed off a late slashing minor to Dylen McKinlay.
Chilliwack’s Curt Gogol finished off a nice setup from Steve Oursov at 18:47 to wrap up the scoring.
Three stars were Gore (first), Spencer Asuchak (second) and Forsyth (third).
The Bruins can move past the Cougars in the chaotic B.C. division as they play the rematch tomorrow night (Wednesday) in Prince George. Chilliwack returns to home ice Friday night (7:30 p.m.), hosting the Moose Jaw Warriors at Prospera Centre.