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Chicago Cougars sweep weekend opener

By Anne Tokarski, 10/17/21, 8:00PM CDT

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The Chicago Cougars opened the season at Fifth Third Arena with three straight wins against the Decatur Blaze and Midwest Blackbirds

What. A. Weekend! The Chicago Cougars welcomed fans to their brand new home for the first time on October 15 when the squad hosted the Decatur Blaze, and christened the rink with three dominant wins over the Blaze and the visiting Midwest Blackbirds.

Game 1 of the weekend vs. the Decatur Blaze: Friday, October 15

It all started at 9:10 PM on Friday night, when the Cougars played host to the Blaze. The team lit up the scoreboard four times in the first period alone to jump out to a commanding 4-1 lead. The Cougars’ first goal against the Blaze came when rookie Andreas Zorn got the last touch on a puck that just trickled past the Decatur netminder one minute into the opening frame. 

A tripping call against the Blaze would give the Cougars the skater advantage two minutes later, and Jake McDonald took advantage of the Goodman Elite power play opportunity to get another goal on the board. 

The Cougars would get whistled for holding just over a minute later, and the Blaze were quick to capitalize as Decatur’s Jeff Shirkey snuck one past Cougars goaltender Michael Lenhart. It would be the only Decatur goal of the period — and the game. 

Cougars rookie Kevin Kost got an opportunity on yet another power play three minutes after the Blaze’s goal, and he wasn’t keen on wasting it. The rookie scored his third goal of the season to put the Cougars up by three. The team wasn’t done yet, though, as rookie Joe Gulino extended his point streak to five games with a goal of his own to give the Cougars a 4-1 advantag heading into the first intermission.

The second period saw much of the same intensity from Chicago’s favorite junior hockey team. Kevin Kost got on the board two minutes into the middle frame as a major penalty to the Blaze carried over from the first period, giving him his second power play tally of the night. Gerdas Paulauskas would add one towards the middle of the second period, and then an absolute rocket from Jack Parks — a rocket on which Daniel Danko got the net-front tip — would put the Cougars up by six. The period wasn’t quite over yet though, and the Blaze would make a goalie change just before the thirteenth minute. A hooking call on Decatur would send the Cougars back to the Goodman Elite power play, and rookie Zorn joined the two-goal club at the end of the second period.

While things quieted down in the third period a little, there were still a few more Cougars who wanted to get in on the fun. Jack Parks roofed one past Blaze goaltender Zachary Hall to put the Cougars up 9-1, and then Michael Sliwinski sealed the deal in the sixteenth minute to put the game away. 

The Cougars took their home opener against the Decatur Blaze by a score of 10-1. 

Scoring events:

Andreas Zorn (McCarthy Clark)
Jake McDonald (Cody Lourenco, Trent Carter) (PP)
Kevin Kost (Trent Carter, Joe Gulino) (PP)
Joe Gulino (Gerdas Paulauskas, McCarthy Clark)
Kevin Kost (George Boos, Gerdas Paulauskas) (PP)
Gerdas Paulauskas (Joe Gulino, Mike Sliwinski) (PP)
Daniel Danko (Jack Parks, Kyle Lamphere)
Andreas Zorn (Gerdas Paulauskas)
Jack Parks (Andreas Zorn, Cody Lourenco)
Mike Sliwinski (Joe Gulino, Kyle Lamphere)

Game 2 of the weekend vs. the Midwest Blackbirds: Saturday, October 16

Saturday evening saw a new opponent for the Cougars as the Midwest Blackbirds crossed the Indiana-Illinois border and entered town. Chicago would face former Cougars netminder in Nick Meyering at the opposite end of the ice, though the friendly relations didn’t mean the Cougars would go easy. 

While the first period was quiet, with the team taking a 0-0 tie into the intermission, Gerdas Paulauskas lit the lamp to open the scoring in the second period at the end of a Goodman Elite power play. 

The third period was when the excitement started to build, as the team started to pile on the shots and the goals. Rookie Kevin Maisells got his first tally as a Cougar just four minutes into the third period to put the good guys up 2-0, then Mike Sliwinski sniped a shot from the top of the circle to give the Cougars a three goal cushion. Daniel Danko tapped in a loose puck, and Kyle Lamphere sealed the deal with the squad’s fifth goal just past the period’s halfway point. 

The Cougars secured the 5-0 win and earned goaltender Ian Young his first shutout of the season. 

Scoring events:
Gerdas Paulauskas (Andreas Zorn)
Kevin Maisells (Andreas Zorn, Cody Lourenco)
Mike Sliwinski (Gerdas Paulauskas, Joe Gulino)
Daniel Danko (Matt Hagerstrom, Kyle Lamphere)
Kyle Lamphere (Andreas Zorn)

Game 3 of the weekend vs. the Midwest Blackbirds: Sunday, October 17

Good things do come in threes as the Cougars took home a 7-4 win in their second game against the Blackbirds, back stopped by goaltender Michael Lenhart in his second appearance of the weekend. 

Jake McDonald opened the scoring in the first period off a beautiful feed from his linemate and recent addition George Boos. A high-sticking call six minutes later sent the Cougars to the Goodman Elite power play, and Kevin Kost would strike for his third goal of the weekend.

Two Cougars penalties at the end of the first period would turn the tides in favor of the Blackbirds, as the squad capitalized on both opportunities to even the score at two apiece. 

The second period saw Daniel Danko, Mike Sliwinski, and Andreas Zorn put the Cougars up 5-3 by the intermission, but the Blackbirds were quick to strike back at the start of the third. By the end of the game, Danko had added another and TJ Haas had gotten his first of the season to put the game away by a score of 7-4. 

Scoring events:
Jake McDonald (George Boos, TJ Haas)
Kevin Kost (Gerdas Paulauskas, Joe Gulino) (PP)
Daniel Danko (Gerdas Paulauskas, Kevin Kost)
Michael Sliwinski (Gerdas Paulauskas, Kas Moncheck)
Andreas Zorn (TJ Haas, Jake McDonald)