Game one of the BC Major Midget League playoffs ended in a loss for the Cariboo Cougars.
The team was up against the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds, who held the lead during the game, ending with a score of 5-2.
“It wasn’t our best effort. They came into the game all over us,” Cariboo Cougars coach Tyler Brough said, adding that the team had some jitters ahead of the game.
In the first period, the Cariboo Cougars were down 2-0 but were still in the game. Between periods, Brough said the players got fired up. They answered with a goal from left winger Brett Fudger.
“It was a great response. We had a few good shifts back to back, and just had a let down in our end and ended up in the back of the net,” he said the next day.
It put the Thunderbirds up by two again. From there, the Cougars chased the game but weren’t able to gain any ground. Then they won the third period.
“It’s key for us if we want to make those three games, we have to continue to take pauses out of games,” Brough said.
“I told them last night, the good thing about hockey is the sun comes up tomorrow. It’s a new day, we can’t dwell on the loss. We have to focus on getting our mindset back to winning a game so we can put ourselves in the situation to play for the championship tomorrow.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s game — the second of the playoffs — the overall mood of the Cougars is good.
“We’ve rebounded quite well all season. I’m optimistic about how we’re going to respond here,” the coach said. “We’re playing a very good hockey team that’s going to be hungry to finish us tonight. It’s not going to be easy, but my message to the boys today was nothing worth winning is ever easy. We’ll see how they respond.”
One of the two scorers for the Cougars, coach Brough had high praise for Brett Fudger, who has been playing for the Cougars since he moved away from Prince Rupert last fall.
“He should be proud of his game yesterday,” Brough said.
“He’s been a player who has learned a lot from us this season. He’s come a long way from when we had him in camp and then he made the team. He’s always been a good hockey player, I think he just needs to learn a few things defensively, and he’s done that. The future is bright for him in the sport and we’re super excited to see what he can do moving forward this season and next season.”
The next game in the finals will be played in Prince George tonight at 7:15 p.m. Depending on the outcome, the Cariboo Cougars and Fraser Valley Thunderbirds may face off for the championships Sunday morning.