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Cougars, Northern Capitals play in Fort St. James

The Northern Capitals planned outdoor game was moved indoors due to high temperatures
Maria Ayre sends a backhand shot on net during the Northern Capitals game against the Fraser Valley Rush. The game was planned to take place outdoors, but had to be moved indoors in Fort St. James due to high temperatures. (Aman Parhar Photo - Vanderhoof Omineca Express)

Submitted by Jason Peters, Cariboo Hockey

They didn’t get to play outdoors.

But the indoor ice at the Fort Forum proved just fine for the U18 female Northern Capitals, who defeated the high-powered Fraser Valley Rush 5-4 on Sunday in Fort St. James.

The BC Elite Hockey League game was supposed to be held outside at the Ernie Sam Memorial Arena as part of Winter Classic weekend. Unfortunately, warming temperatures made the ice surface unplayable and the contest had to be moved to the Forum.

In a back-and-forth affair which looked like it might be headed for overtime, Keagan Goulet scored the winner for the Northern Capitals with 3:37 left. The goal was her second of the game.

Goulet’s first goal came with 5:09 left in the second period while her team was on a power play. That marker put the Capitals up 4-1 but, before the middle frame was done, the Rush got power-play strikes from Gillian Lapierre and Leah Barnard to draw within one.

Aynsley D’Ottavio then pulled the Rush into a tie with 8:01 left to go in the third period.

Ella Boon of the Capitals scored the only goal of the first period, a power-play marker about four minutes before the buzzer.

Early in the second, Hailey Armstrong and Brooklyn Hutchings extended the Northern Capitals’ lead to 3-0 before Vienna Rubin finally got the Rush on the board. Goulet’s power-play goal set the stage for the dramatics that followed.

In the victory, Armstrong had the one goal and assisted on the other four.

Sierra Eagles was the winning goaltender and Rebecca Noble took the loss.

Sunday’s win gave the Caps a weekend split with the Rush. The teams also played on Saturday at the Vanderhoof Arena and the Rush won that one 4-1. The Rush went up 3-1 on an empty-netter by Rubin with 1:57 to play and then got another goal from Barnard before time expired.

Rubin opened the scoring early in the first period but Rachel Loewen pulled the Capitals even with a power-play marker. Solana Cooper then netted her own power-play goal and the Rush had a 2-1 lead. The score stayed that way until Rubin hit the empty net in the third.

Goaltender Clara Juca earned the win and Karsyn Niven took the loss.

The Rush and Capitals sit first and second respectively in the division standings. With the weekend results, the Rush are now 19-2-1-0 and the Caps are 15-6-0-3. Both Rush losses have come at the hands of the Capitals.

The next scheduled games for the Caps are Feb. 5-6 in Chemainus against the Vancouver Island Seals.

READ MORE: Cougars, Northern Capitals planning for return of outdoor hockey game

The Cariboo Cougars were able to play on the outdoor ice, but Lincoln Edwards denied the them a victory.

On Saturday night at Ernie Sam Memorial Arena in Fort St. James, Edwards scored at 1:23 of a five-minute overtime session to give the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds a 3-2 decision in the BC Elite Hockey League Winter Classic.

The U18 Cougars had a 2-1 lead after two periods but Darius Bachler netted an equalizer half-way through the third.

Cariboo forward Max Sanford scored the only goal of the first period. Alyandro De Leon drew the Thunderbirds even in the second before Decker Mujcin restored the Cariboo lead with a shorthanded marker at 13:55.

Bachler’s tying goal sent the game to overtime, where Edwards played hero.

Trevor Agnew picked up the win for the T-birds and Tysen Smith took the loss.

In a high-scoring Sunday rematch at the Fort Forum, the Thunderbirds outgunned the Cougars 10-6. The T-birds led 3-2 after the first period and 9-6 after a wild second. In the middle frame, Fraser Valley scored five consecutive goals for an 8-2 lead, only to see Cariboo shooters fight back with four straight.

Cariboo marksmen were Pryce Peats, Carter Hesselgrave, Keenan Holland, Tye Peters, Marik Mamic and Mujcin. Fraser Valley goals came off the sticks of Tyler Pretty (2), Matteo Speranza (2), Brendan Ruskowski, De Leon, Gavin Giesbrecht (2), Cale Colwell and Antonio Bevacqua.

Nicholas Cristiano (Thunderbirds) and Damien Knackstedt (Cougars) were the starting goaltenders.

The Thunderbirds outshot the Cougars 47-30.

Fraser Valley improved to 14-8-3-1 and is fourth in the 10-team division. The Cougars (11-11-1-3) are fifth.

The Cougars are scheduled to be in North Vancouver this coming Saturday and Sunday for games against the third-place Vancouver Northwest Hawks (17-5-1-1).

In other weekend games, the U15 Cougars were in Abbotsford and lost 8-2 and 5-2 to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.

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