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WHL playoffs: Cougars pounce in OT to eliminate Americans in six games

Riley Heidt Prince George Cougars Riley Heidt - The Canadian Press

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — Chase Wheatcroft's goal at 2:31 of overtime lifted the Prince George Cougars to a 5-4 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on Sunday night and into the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

The Cougars, who beat the Americans 4-2 in the first-round, best-of-seven series, will now face the top-seeded Seattle Thunderbirds, who swept the Kelowna Rockets.

Riley Heidt, Cole Dubinsky, Fischer O'Brien and Zac Funk also scored for the Cougars, who were outshot 38-37. Caden Brown and Heidt each chipped in with two assists.

Reese Belton, Ethan Ernst, Tyson Greenway and Jake Sloan scored for the Americans, who trailed 3-1 after the first period, but went into the third tied 3-3.

The Cougars won Game 2 of the punishing series 2-1 in overtime after the visiting Americans won the opener 6-4.

POKE CHECKS: Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats are aiming to upset the favoured Blades when they square off in Game 7 on Monday night in Saskatoon, Sask. The Blades finished the WHL regular season with 101 points — 29 more than the Pats. Regina recorded 34 regular-season wins, while Saskatoon compiled 48. There have been three overtime games in the series and the only blowout occurred in Game 1 when the Pats pounded the host Blades 6-1. Bedard, expected to be the No. 1 pick in this summer's NHL entry draft, has 11 goals and eight assists in the first six games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2023.