Tavin Grant a Giant slayer for Cougars
On a night when the Vancouver Giants welcomed back a hometown hero after more than 200 days on the injury shelf, a Burnaby boy dressed in a Prince George Cougars uniform stole the show.
Tavin Grant, the 19-year-old Cougars goalie, was at his best in the late stages to preserve a 2-1 victory over the Giants Friday night in Langley.
He saved the day for the Cats, stoning Tyler Benson with a kick save on a clear-cut breakaway with 40 seconds left and the Giants playing with the extra skater.
Ryan Schoettler and Langley native Dennis Schoettler scored for the Cougars, who led 2-0 after two periods.
The 19-year-old Benson, an Edmonton Oilers draft pick (32nd overall in 2016), had been sidelined since Jan. 2 after surgery to repair a sports hernia. The Giants’ captain cut the lead in half with 4:54 left in the third period, beating Grant with a wrist shot. Grant made 32 saves to back the Cougars their fifth win of the season. Todd Scott took the loss in goal for Vancouver, stopping 27 shots.
The Giants (5-6-1-1) had won three of their last four, coming off a 5-2 win in Regina. The Cougars (5-5-2-2) kept pace with the Kelowna Rockets, who beat Tri-City 4-3 in overtime Friday. The Cougars and Rockets each have 14 points. The Cats moved into third place in the B.C. Dvision, two points ahead of Vancouver.
The Cougars will be in Kelowna tonight to take on the Rockets (7 p.m. start, 93.4 FM The Goat).
LOOSE PUCKS: Grant was backed up by Taylor Gauthier, who leaves Monday to play for Team Canada in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek… Notable in his absence from the Cougars’ lineup Friday was left winger Nikita Popugaev, who left the team Thursday to return to his home in Moscow, Russia… Forward Matt Mosher made his Cougars’ debut playing on a line with Josh Maser and Ethan O’Rourke and the native of White Rock did not look out of place. The Cougars acquired 17-year-old Mosher this week in a trade from the Saskatoon Blades… D Josh Anderson has resumed skating with the Cougars but remains out of the lineup with a shoulder injury… Friday’s game was the first for Vancouver centre Brad Morrison since he was sent to the Giants over the summer in a trade for a second-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. The 20-year-old Prince George native played four seasons with the Cougars. Morrison, a fourth-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2015, came into the game third in Giants’ scoring this season. He was averaging better than a point per game with two goals and 11 assists through 12 games but was held without a point Friday.