On the wrong end of an 8-0 drubbing from the Valley West Hawks on Saturday, the Cariboo Cougars came in with a much different mindset for the back half of their home-opener double header on Sunday.
Off on the right foot, Cariboo opened the scoring with a goal from Mason Richey who rung a shot off the post after a Hawks turnover. Craig MacDonald and Myles Mattila assisted on the play.
Up 1-0 going into the first period, the Cougars ran into a little trouble defensively. Hawks Forward, Tyler Ho broke through on a breakaway to slide one past Cougars Goalie Marcus Allen. Ho grabbed his jersey by the crest after scoring as a way of getting in the head of his former Cougars teammates.
The bad blood continued later on in the frame. Hawks Forward Justyn Gurley raced for the puck, charging into Allen which resulted in a huge collisions. A yard sale of sticks and gloves were left on the ice as Cougars players came to their goalie’s defence.
Gurney received a five minute major for goalie interference on the player and a match penalty. Aidan Barfoot and Alek Sakunda would get fighting majors and game misconduct for the Hawks, while Darian Long and Riley Krane received the same punishment for the Cougars.
Later on in the second, Ho had a chance in the slot, slapping away at a loose puck. The puck bounced a couple times before trickling in past Allen. Just under a minute later, the Cougars would hit right back. With just 30 seconds left in the period, Dane Dubois set up Hunter Floris from behind the net to tie the game a 2-2.
In the third, Cariboo ran into some penalty trouble with Jonas Harkins off for roughing. Valley West capitalized on the opportunity with a goal from Jonas Leas. Down by just one and with only three minutes left in the game, the Cougars were able to get back on track. Dubois got the Cougars back on even terms with an assist from MacDonald.
This one needed a five minute overtime period and for the first time, both teams would have to play in the new 3 on 3 format. Valley West had some great chances, but it was Allen who stood on his head to make big saves. Most notably, Allen saved a two on one rush in what would have been a for sure goal by Hawks Forward Bryce Anderson.
That save gave Cariboo the momentum to keep fighting late in the game. Dubois was able to find himself alone in the slot and with just 0.5 seconds left he fired home the game winner.
Cougars Associate Head Coach, Bryan MacLean says he’s proud of his club’s effort to keep going. “It was a hard weekend of hockey, last night we kind of got it handed to us a little bit, but it was a good response from the guys with the character wining Overtime,” he said. “For us as coaches this is something we can go back to, we can tell the boys to remember this game when we were short a few guys and we had different guys to step up, it’s a good confidence builder for us moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Dubois was pleased with the result and the way his teammates kept fighting for each opportunity. “We didn’t obviously like the outcome of the first game so that triggered something on the inside of us, that was really what we we’re made of for the second game,” he said. “We just have to keep building on this, we’ve had some good weeks of practices so just keep building on this because weve got the hard work and the skill to do it.”
The Cougars improve to 5-1-0 on the season, while Valley West drops to 5-0-1.
Cariboo now plays a pair of road games next weekend against the Vancouver NE Chiefs.