FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Northeast BC/Yukon Trackers we be looking to rebound Tuesday after a tough loss to the Prince George Midget Cougars in their first game at the BC Tier 1 Midget Provincials.
A decent-sized crowd to rival any that has come out to watch the Huskies or Flyers in the post-season packed the North Peace Arena for the Trackers’ first game of the tournament. Unfortunately for Northeast BC it was the Cougars that would get on the board first, scoring just 3:39 into the first period. Prince George would add two more goals before the Trackers would respond. Curtis Hammond wired a shot past Cougars netminder Kevin Craig with 4:35 left in the first, assisted by Nathan Brownlee and Connor Bowie. Just 22 seconds later, John Herrington would put the Trackers within one after a give-and-go feed from Connor Kindrat. Unfortunately for the home team, Prince George would score their fourth goal with just 56 seconds left in the first to restore their two-goal lead going into the first intermission.
After being outshot in the first period 18-11, Northeast BC came out as the dominant team in the second frame. Though some penalties in the first half of the period cost them, the Trackers move back to within one with 8:49 left in the stanza. Bowie wired a shot past Craig from the point on a cross-ice pass from Duncan Ross. After Kindrat was assessed an Interference penalty with just over a minute to play, the Cougars once again scored to add some insurance to their tally with 35 seconds left. But Aiden Craig-Steele answered right back for the Trackers, scoring with just 21 seconds remaining. Hammond and Bowie tallied the assists on Craig-Steele’s goal.
The Trackers came out in the third firing on all cylinders, but penalty trouble once again cost the team several chances to go on the attack. Prince George ended up in some penalty trouble of their own later in the third, but the Trackers weren’t able to capitalize on the man-advantage. Though Tyler McArthur was pulled in favour of the extra attacker in the final minute, the Cougars shut the door to seal the deal by the score of 5-4 and improve their record in the tournament to 1-0-1, while the Trackers are sitting 0-1.
“I think the boys played well, they were excited, chomping at the bit all week,” said Trackers coach Gerard Dicaire after the game. “I don’t think they were used to this big a crowd, I don’t think anybody was expecting this big a crowd. They played the high school game with school kids and peers, but for them it was pretty loud out there and it was good to see the community came out and support the game tonight. It was a lot of nervous energy in the first 20 minutes. We spot them a three-goal lead, outcome is obviously a little bit different. They came out a little nervous and then they started getting their legs underneath them and played better.”
The Prince George Cougars tied the Vancouver Thunderbirds 3-3 in the first game of the tournament on Monday morning. The Burnaby Bulldogs doubled up the Saanich Braves 8-4.
The Trackers will be playing their second game of the tournament on Tuesday afternoon at 4:15 against the Burnaby Bulldogs at the North Peace Arena.