Lucas Gore made 46 saves and the Chilliwack Bruins enjoyed a happy bus ride home from Prince George Saturday night after taking a 3-1 decision over the Cougars at the CN Arena.
With wins in two of the three back-to-back-to-back matches, the Bruins gained some traction in the tightly packed B.C. division and Western conference standings, improving to 20-19-2-1 on the season. That leaves the good guys sitting fourth in the division and eighth in the conference heading into a Tuesday night tilt with the Spokane Chiefs.
The Bruins opened the scoring at 4:52 of the first period on a gift from Cougar keeper Ty Rimmer. With his team on a power play, the 18-year-old ventured out to play the puck up to a teammate. Instead, he played it onto the stick of Chilliwack’s Ryan Howse, and the Prince George native quickly buried his team-leading 29th of the season.
With a bit more puck-luck, Chilliwack could have had two or three more. Rimmer was bailed out by his goal-posts as Brandon Manning, Brandon Magee and Roman Horak all hit iron in the opening frame.
Gore was steady, and often spectacular, at the other end. The Cougars had 14 first period shots, several of the Grade-A variety. The 20-year-old goalie’s biggest stop may have been on Juraj Valach, who swooped in off a faceoff and had a great chance in tight, only to be thwarted by the right leg-pad of Gore.
Chilliwack escaped to the intermission with the one-goal lead, and then added to it at 12:40 of the middle frame on a goal by Mike Forsyth. The ex-Moose Jaw Warrior gobbled up a turnover by PG defenceman Cody Carlson and quickly fired from the left faceoff circle, beating Rimmer for his seventh of the year.
Still unbeaten this year when leading after two periods (14-0-0-0), the Bruins were in good shape through 40 minutes.
But the Cougars weren’t going to go quietly, and Martin Marincin scored just 27 seconds into the final frame to cut the Chilliwack lead in half. Prince George kept buzzing, forcing Bruins coach Marc Habscheid to spend a thirty-second timeout to settle his team down.
That did the trick, and the penalty killing unit restored the two-goal lead at 9:38. With Jeff Einhorn serving two minutes for interference, Roman Horak picked the pocket of a PG point man and took off on a short-handed breakaway. The 19-year-old Czech faked the shot and then went the backhand, sliding the puck five-hole on Rimmer for his 17th of the year.
Carlson hit the goal-post behind Gore seconds later, but the Cougars came up empty on that power play and misfired on another late man advantage, finishing the night 0-for-6.
Rimmer came to the bench with 63 seconds remaining, but PG couldn’t come up with the equalizer. The final score continued a trend in the season series, with neither team winning two straight in the six head-to-head matchups so far.
Gore was an obvious pick as the first star. The second star was Horak and the third star was Valach.