First-place Cougars defuse Rockets

Colby McAuley scored twice for B.C. Division leaders in WHL win Tuesday at Prospera Place.

Kelowna Rockets' forward Tomas Soustal (left) battles Prince George defenseman Bartek Bison in WHL action Tuesday night at Prospera Place.

The Kelowna Rockets have yet to find an answer for the Prince George Cougars.

Colby McAuley scored twice and added an assist as the WHL’s B.C. Division leaders downed Kelowna 4-2 Tuesday night at Prospera Place.

The Cougars are 4-0-0 against the Rockets this season and have outscored Kelowna 13-4 in the process.

The Rockets were outshot 36-24, including 16-6 in the second period, a span of hockey that head coach Jason Smith said ultimately cost his team the game.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” Smith said of the loss. “We did some good things to start the game, but we got away from our game a little bit in the second period.

“We got away from putting the puck to the net. There was a stretch where we didn’t get a shot for a long period of time. That’s not good enough.”

McAuley and Yan Khomenko scored goals just over three minutes apart in the first period to spot the Cougars to a 2-0 lead.

Tomas Soustal’s power play goal, his ninth of the season at 16:46 of the second period cut the lead in half, but McAuley beat Michael Herringer on a clear-cut breakaway early in the third to restore P.G.’s two-goal lead.

Calvin Thurkauf’s ninth of the season on the power play at 8:51 of the third once again made it a one-goal game, but the Rockets failed to threaten after that.

Aaron Boyd sealed the game with an empty-net marker with 1:15 remaining in the third.

In the end, Smith said his team simply didn’t play the game it needed to against one of the league’s hottest teams.

“Obviously we didn’t win, so it wasn’t good enough.

“They’re a good team,” he said of the Cougars (16-4-2). “They move the puck well, they get the puck deep and they force you to defend. They play a solid, team game.”

The Rockets (11-10-0) return to action Friday night when they host the

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