WHL Roundup: O’Rourke powers Cougars over Royals

Brett Cullen


Four games occupied Sunday’s schedule in Western Hockey League pre-season action.

Prince George Cougars (4) at Victoria Royals (3) (OT) – Langley, B.C.
Prince George (3-2-0-0) // Victoria (1-2-1-0)

Ethan O’Rourke started and ended the scoring Sunday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre as the Prince George Cougars helped to put a sour end to the pre-season schedule of the Victoria Royals.

The Cougars were on the Royals from the opening period, out-shooting them 16-6 and capitalizing with a pair of goals. O’Rourke scored short-handed 6:04 into the contest and Aaron Boyd doubled their lead 33 seconds later while also down a man.

Coming back in the second, Jared Legien cut the lead in half with his fourth of the pre-season, but the Royals still trailed by one heading to the final period.

Josh Maser restored the two-goal lead for the Cougars 97 seconds in the third period, but the Royals wouldn’t go away quietly in their pre-season finale. Igor Martynov answered back 12 seconds later for the Royals and then tallied his second of the contest with 2:34 to go in the game to send things to overtime.

There, it took 4:18 for O’Rourke to find the back of the net and deliver the club its third win of the pre-season.

Maser finished with a multi-point game while Max Kryski and Liam Ryan picked up assists.

For the Royals, Yan Khomenko had a pair of assists and Legien finished with a pair of points. Tyus Gent picked up an assist with the Royals.

Isaiah DiLaura and Taylor Gauthier combined to make 25 saves on 28 shots for the Cougars while Hunter Arps made 34 saves in the losing effort in his first game action since a mid-week trade with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Up next for the Cougars is a chance to return to the CN Centre when they host the Kamloops Blazers Sept. 15 in their pre-season finale. For the Royals, their pre-season ends with a 1-2-1 record. They’ll now prepare for their home opener Sept. 22 against the Vancouver Giants at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena.

Calgary Hitmen (3) at Edmonton Oil Kings (1)
Calgary (2-2-0-0) // Edmonton (0-4-0-0)

For the second time in as many games, the Calgary Hitmen spaced out their scoring evenly over all three periods, completing a home-and-home sweep of the Edmonton Oil Kings in Edmonton Sunday afternoon.

Bryce Bader opened the scoring in the first period and Justyn Gurney’s second period goal stood up as the difference as the Hitmen evened up their pre-season record.

Andrei Pavlenko answered back for the Oil Kings with 45 seconds to go in the game, but Jake Kryski restored the two-goal cushion 20 seconds later to seal the victory.

Matthew Armitage made 32 saves on 33 shots for the Hitmen in the win. Boston Bilous and Travis Child turned aside 39 of 42 shots, but emerged with the loss as the Oil Kings remained winless in pre-season action.

Up next for the Hitmen is another Central Division matchup as they travel to the Crowsnest Pass, Alta. to battle the Kootenay ICE next Saturday. The Oil Kings will have one last chance to earn a pre-season victory when they play host to Saskatoon Blades next Saturday.

Everett Silvertips (4) at Vancouver Giants (5)
Everett (3-2-0-0) // Vancouver (5-1-0-0)

Orrin Centazzo hat a hat trick for the Everett Silvertips, but it wasn’t enough to fend off the Vancouver Giants on their own home turf Sunday as a late goal from Alex Kannok Leipert secured the victory for the home side.

Martin Fasko-Rudas opened the scoring for the Silvertips just past the midway mark of the first period, but the score was leveled before the end of the period as Austin King-Cunningham tied up the game for the Giants.

Centazzo scored his first of the game 31 seconds into the second period. While Owen Hardy once again tied up the game for the Giants three minutes later, Centazzo’s second of the game three minutes after that pushed the Silvertips ahead by one heading to the final period.

The third period began the same as the second, with a goal 31 seconds in by Centazzo, completing his hat trick and Fasko-Rudas added a second assist to give him three points in the game. The Giants wouldn’t go away quietly though.

James Malm continued to produce for the Giants, scoring 8:19 into the final period to bring the Giants within one. Aidan Barfoot evened up the game with roughly four minutes to go, setting the stage for Kannok Leipert, who buried his first of the pre-season with eight seconds to go, sending the Giants to their fifth win of the pre-season. The win also marked the third one-goal victory of the pre-season for the Giants in their final tune-up before the regular season.

The Giants will now prepare for their opening game of the season Sept. 22 against the Victoria Royals on Vancouver Island. For the Silvertips, their pre-season continues at the XFINITY Arena next Friday when they open up a home-and-home series with the Seattle Thunder Birds.

Lethbridge Hurricanes (2) at Swift Current Broncos (3)
Lethbridge (1-3-0-0) // Swift Current (2-3-0-0)

The Swift Current Broncos defended their home turf Sunday to split a home-and-home series with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Arthur Miller’s second goal of the night was the game-winner as the Broncos closed out their pre-season with a victory. Ethan Regnier added the other goal for the Broncos while Taz Burman earned the victory in net for Swift Current.

Hayden Clayton scored for Lethbridge in the first period to even things up, but the Hurricanes would fall behind again after Regnier’s late first period goal.

Miller added another goal mid-way through the second period to increase the lead to two, allowing for some valuable insurance when Jadon Joseph scored midway through the third for the Hurricanes.

Bryan Thompson took the loss for the Hurricanes. Regnier finished with a three-point games while MacKenzie Wright added an assist.

Alex Cotton, Ryan Vandervlis. and Igor Merezhko tallied assists for Lethbridge.

For the Broncos, they’ll now have time off to prepare for their regular season opener on the road against the Saskatoon Blades Sept. 22. The Hurricanes will take on the Kootenay ICE next Friday in Crowsnest Pass, Alta. to close out their pre-season schedule.

The next pre-season action comes to you Tuesday when the Kootenay ICE and Tri-City Americans meet at the Toyota Centre in Kennewick, Wash.


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