Mere days after being selected as one of the top teams in the Canadian Hockey League, the Prince George Cougars found out they have plenty more work to do.
Craig Cunningham and Neil Manning notched two goals apiece as the Vancouver Giants thumped the Cougars 7-3 in Western Hockey League action Friday night. Craig Schira, Brendan Gallagher, with his first WHL goal, and Evander Kane also scored for the Giants (2-0-0-1) in their 2008-09 home opener before a crowd of 9,069 at the Pacific Coliseum.
Brian Matte, Brett Connelly and Dallas Jackson replied for the Cougars (2-1-0-0) as they suffered their first loss of the young season. Earlier in the week, Prince George was listed No. 8 in the CHL weekly rankings - a major surprise for a team considered to be in rebuilding mode.
Vancouver wasn't intimidated by the Cougars' early-season success, breaking open a close game with a five-goal second period. The Giants outshot the Cougars 21-11 in the period and built a 6-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Vancouver went 3-for-5 with the man advantage while Prince George was 2-for-6. The Giants outshot the Cougars 40-27.
Elsewhere in the Western Hockey League on Friday, it was: Moose Jaw 6, Brandon 3; Kootenay 3, Calgary 1; Edmonton 5, Red Deer 4 (SO); Swift Current 3, Saskatoon 2; Kelowna 6, Kamloops 2; Prince Albert 4, Regina 3; Lethbridge 1, Medicine Hat 0; Tri-City 5, Seattle 3; and Everett 2, Portland 0.
At Vancouver, Cunningham's second goal of the night at 5:42 of the second period proved to be the winner as he deflected in Craig Schira's point shot, breaking a 2-2 deadlock.
Prince George starting goaltender Kevin Armstrong, who helped the Spokane Chiefs win WHL and Memorial Cup titles last spring, was pulled at 12:06 of the second period after allowing two goals just 20 seconds apart. Backup Ian Curtis allowed one goal on 18 shots.
Vancouver goaltender Tyson Sexsmith made 24 saves in his first appearance this season after returning from the NHL's San Jose Sharks earlier in the week.
Warriors 6, Wheat Kings 3
At Brandon, Man., Joel Broda and Thomas Frazee scored two goals apiece to the Moose Jaw past the Wheat Kings.
Jason Bast and Corey Scott added singles for the Warriors (2-2-0-0).
Colby Robak, Matt Lowry and Mark Stone replied for the Wheat Kings (2-1-0-0).
Ice 3, Hitmen 1
At Cranbrook, B.C., Jesse Ismond's game winner 8:15 into the second period helped the Ice earn a victory over Calgary.
Dustin Sylvester and Tylan Stephens added singles for Kootenay (2-2-0-1).
Kyle Bortis had the lone goal for the Hitmen (2-2-0-0).
Oil Kings 5, Rebels 4 (SO)
At Edmonton, Brendan Dowd scored the shootout winner as the Oil Kings beat Red Deer.
Dowd, Brandon Lockerby, Shayne Neigum and Brent Raedeke had goals in regulation for Edmonton (2-2-0-0).
Colin Archer, Willie Coetzee, Cody Gross and Cass Mappin scored for the Rebels (2-1-0-1).
Broncos 3, Blades 2
At Swift Current, Sask., Spencer McAvoy scored twice as the Broncos edged Saskatoon.
Keegan Dansereau had the other goal for Swift Current (3-0-0-0).
The Blades (1-2-0-0) replied with goals from Curtis Hamilton and Milan Kytnar.
Rockets 6, Blazers 2
At Kamloops, B.C., Kelowna scored four power play goals in a win over the Blazers.
Colin Long, Collin Bowman, Cody Almond, Stepan Novotny, Kyle St. Denis and Brandon McMillan each scored his first goal of the season for the Rockets (1-2-0-0).
Nick Ross and Shayne Wiebe replied for Kamloops (2-1-0-1).
Raiders 4, Pats 3
At Prince Albert, Sask., Dustin Cameron's goal late in the second period stood as the game winner as the Raiders held on to beat Regina.
Justin Bernhardt, James Dobrowolski and Ryan McDonald had the other goals for Prince Albert (2-2-0-0).
Michael MacAngus, Jordan Eberle and Jordan Weal scored for the Pats (0-2-0-1).
Hurricanes 1, Tigers 0
At Lethbridge, Alta., Dwight King's first goal of the season 18 seconds into overtime lifted the Hurricanes past Medicine Hat.
Juha Metsola made 19 saves to earn his second shutout of the season for Lethbridge (3-0-0-0).
Ryan Holfeld stopped 25 shots in defeat for the Tigers (1-0-1-1).
Americans 5, Thunderbirds 3
At Kennewick, Wash., Adam Hughesman had a pair of goals and Justin Feser had a goal and an assist as the Americans downed Seattle.
Petr Stoklasa and Jason Reese also scored for Tri-City (2-0-0-0).
David Richard scored twice and Devon LeBlanc added a single for the Thunderbirds (0-3-0-0).
Silvertips 2, Winter Hawks 0
At Everett, Wash., Kent Simpson made 28 saves in his first career Western Hockey League start, propelling the Silvertips past Portland.
Mike Alexander and Shane Harper scored for Everett (1-1-1-0).
Kurtis Mucha made 27 saves in goal for Portland (1-2-0-0).