LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - Somehow, the Prince George Cougars have made the longest road trip in team history seem even longer.
The Cougars, two-thirds of the way through a nine-game away string, are 1-5 to date after their latest road drubbing - a 6-1 thumping by the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Six different Hurricanes put the puck behind Cougars goaltender Joe Caligiuri. Carter Bancks started it in the first period, Cam Stevens and Mitch Versteeg connected in the second, and Brent Henke, Craig Ofino and Zach Boychuk made it a 6-0 game in the third.
Only the late power-play goal from rookie Brett Connolly, coming with 1:47 to play, prevented rookie Lethbridge goaltender Michael Tadjdeh from recording a pressure-free shutout in his second WHL start. The Cougars mustered just 11 shots on goal, with six of those coming in the second period, on the 17-year-old from Calgary.
Caligiuri faced 40 shots by the Hurricanes, who were 0-5 on the power play. The Cougars were 1-6 win the man advantage.
With a game Wednesday in Medicine Hat, the Cougars, now 7-6-0-0 overall and 2-6-0-0 in away games, have very little time to find an answer. The Tigers have been near-perfect at home this season with five wins and a shootout loss in six dates.
It was a painful night for Cougars players in the plus-minus category. Captain Dana Tyrell, coming off a natural hat trick in Saturday's 6-4 loss in Red Deer, was minus-6, while defencemen Cody Hobbs and Art Bidlevskii were both minus-4. Colby Kulhanek was minus-3, and four others - Connolly, Ryan Kowalski, Dallas Jackson and Cameron Cepek - lost two marks from their plus-minus.
The Cougars aren't out of the woods after the Medicine Hat game, either. On Friday, the bus is in Cranbrook, B.C., for a date with the Kootenay Ice, who are on a four-game winning streak, and on Saturday the playing portion of the 16-day trek ends with a game in Spokane, Wash., home of the defending Memorial Cup-champion Chiefs. The only win of the trip so far was Friday in Edmonton.