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Cariboo Cougars U18, U17 squads perfect during weekend games

The teams feature players from around the Cariboo region

By Jason Peters, Cariboo Hockey

Damien Knackstedt was flawless.

The Cariboo Cougars goaltender stopped all 31 shots he faced in a 3-0 victory over the Thompson Blazers on Sunday at Kin 1. It was Knackstedt’s first-ever shutout in the U18 division of the BC Elite Hockey League and also the first of the season for the Cougars.

The Cats also beat the Blazers on Saturday, 5-4.

In Sunday’s game, the Blazers outshot the Cougars 16-10 in the first period but found themselves down 2-0 after 20 minutes. Marik Mamic and Colby Busche (shorthanded) scored the Cariboo goals. Then, after a scoreless second period in which the Blazers outshot the Cats 10-6, Amar Powar padded the Cariboo lead in the third.

Overall, the Blazers outshot the Cougars 31-25.

In Saturday’s opener, Max Sanford, Jordan Lagreca (power play), Decker Mujcin and Mamic had the Cougars ahead 4-0 by the early stages of the second period before Reid Gartrell finally got the Blazers on the board with a power-play marker. Keenan Holland restored the four-goal lead for the Cougars but Caleb DeHoog brought the score to 5-2 before the period ended. In the third, the Blazers got a goal from Lian Gayfer and then a power-play tally from Kaleb Preymak with 29 seconds left on the clock but got no closer.

The doubleheader was also a matchup between brothers, as assistant coaches RJay Berra (Cougars) and Hayden-James Berra (Blazers) squared off against each other.

The Cougars also swept the Blazers on Nov. 27-28 in Kamloops and are on a four-game winning streak. In the standings, they improved to 9-7-1-1, good for fifth place in the 10-team division.

The Blazers (5-12-1-2) are ninth.

The Cougars are scheduled to be in Delta and Surrey this coming weekend for games against the sixth-place Valley West Giants (8-9-3-0).

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Meanwhile, the U17 Cariboo Cougars brought four points home with them.

The Cougars were in Chase for weekend BC Elite Hockey League games against the Thompson Blazers and won both, 5-1 on Saturday and 4-1 on Sunday.

Parker White (2), Logan Hauk, Blake Pigeon and Isaiah Bagri were the Saturday marksmen for the Cougars. They scored five consecutive goals after Hayden Evans opened the scoring for the home team early in the first period.

Brady MacKay was the winning goaltender and Zack Veninsky took the loss.

On Sunday, the Cats were up 2-1 half way through the third period but put the game away on goals by Hauk and Colton Hotte. Jesse Brideau (power play) and Declan Pocock also scored for the Cougars, while Kheller Ouellette replied for the Blazers while they were on a second-period power play.

Ben Delisi was between the pipes for the win and Preston Lewis took the loss.

The Cougars are now in seventh place in the 10-team division with a record of 8-7-0-1. The Blazers are eighth at 4-15-0-1.

The Cougars are scheduled to host the first-place Valley West Giants (14-4-0-0) this coming weekend. Games are set for Saturday (5 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.) at Kin 1.

The Northern Capitals finished the 2020 portion of their season on Nov.28, picking up two wins and an overtime loss against the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers in the BC Elite Hockey League. They won’t play again until Jan. 15/16.

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

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