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Special teams burn Cougars in loss to Rockets

The comeback came up short in Kelowna last night.

It came down to the final few seconds of the game, but the Kelowna Rockets were able to hold on against the Prince George Cougars and take the third meeting of the season 5-4.

The Cougars came into the third period down 4-1, but goals from Funk and Ziemmer in the first 90 seconds of the period quickly made the game interesting for the 3723 fans in the building.

The Cougars would be handed their fourth powerplay of the game minutes later which should have been an excellent chance to tie the game.

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Kelowna’s Dylan Wightman had different plans, scoring shorthanded on a 2-on-1 rush at 4:49, which would end up being the game winner.

Funk scored his second of the game on the powerplay with under a minute to go, but the Cougars could not complete the comeback in the dying seconds.

The shorthanded goal against was just a fraction of the special teams issues the Cougars encountered last night, surrendering Kelowna’s first three goals on their first four penalty kills.

Kelowna would end the night 3/6 on the man advantage – only one of their goals was scored at even strength.

To their credit, the Cats were 2/6 on the powerplay and Carlin Dezainde had a shorthanded goal of his own in the second period – the 7th shorthanded goal the Cougars have scored in the first 10 games.

Zac Funk’s two goals led the Cougars’ offense, Koehn Ziemmer also had a goal and an assist.

Jari Kykkanen made 35 saves in the win for Kelowna while Ty Young made just 20 on 25 shots for the Cougars.

Dylan Wightman had 2 goals for the Rockets, and Andrew Cristall, Gabriel Szturc, and Caden Price all collected a goal and an assist.

The loss pushes the Cougars’ record to 7-3-0-0 this season, Kelowna improves to 3-3-1-0. The two teams are first and second in the BC Division.

The Cats still sit on top of the league standings but only lead the western conference by 4 points over Portland – they have played 4 more games than the 5-1-0-0 Winterhawks, who were ranked as the CHL’s top team last week.

The Cougars now have a week of rest after starting the season with the busiest schedule in the WHL.

Their next game is in Prince George on Saturday when they take on the last place Kamloops Blazers (1-4-2-0) to open Community Heroes weekend.

You can find the game’s box score here.

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