Dalton Sward scored a hat-trick in his 200th game in the WHL, but it wasn’t enough as the Vancouver Giants fell to the Prince George Cougars 6-5 in a shootout. Arvin Atwal and Brett Kulak also found the net in the losing cause.
The G-Men found the net early as Atwal scored his first of the season in the first three minutes of a game when he beat Prince George goalie Ty Edmonds with a point shot on the power play. Sward made it 2-0 for Vancouver when he netted his first of the evening on a shorthanded breakaway, but the Cougars got one back 13 seconds later when Klarc Wilson beat Payton Lee through the five-hole.
The Prince George club tied the game in the second period on a strange goal when Jansen Harkins threw the puck to the slot from the left corner, and it bounced off Kulak’s stick and past Lee. Sward tallied his second of the game, knocking the rebound of a Thomas Foster shot into an open net to put the Giants ahead again, but Alex Forsberg leveled the score before the end of the stanza to send the teams to the dressing room tied 3-3.
The Cougars took their first lead of the hockey game in the early stages of the third when Chase Witala picked up his 17th goal of the year to put the Cougars ahead. The G-Men bounced back again though, scoring twice in 55 seconds to regain the lead. First, Kulak scored a power play goal with a drive from the blue line before Sward completed his hat-trick with a shot from the right wing that found its way though Edmonds and into the net. Prince George wouldn’t be deterred though as Witala scored again in the late going with a quick shot right off a face-off to send the game to overtime.
Marc McNulty thought he had won the game early in the extra period when he wired a shot off the post from the high slot, and the red light came on, but the referee waved the goal off and play continued. A subsequent review would show that the puck never crossed the goal line, and with neither side able to find a winner, the game went to a shootout. Cain Franson was the only Vancouver player to score in the skills contest while Forsberg and Witala beat Lee to give the Cougars their first win over the Giants this season.
The two teams will face-off again tomorrow night at the CN Centre. Listen to the play-by-play on TEAM 1040 and teamradio.ca. The Pre-Game Show begins at 6:30pm, followed by the puck drop at 7 o’clock.
1. Dalton Sward - Vancouver
2. Peter Kosterman - Prince George
3. Chase Witala - Prince George