The Prairie Hockey Academy Elite 15 Cougars had an up and down weekend on home ice.
PHA hosted the Rink Hockey Academy Nationals out of Winnipeg for two games at the Barkman Arena, skating to a 4-3 shootout win on Saturday and then falling 7-4 after a slow start on Sunday.
"I feel like we can beat them, they're a beatable team, but we’ve just got to bring our 'A' game every time, we can't take a period off," said PHA defenceman Max Wanner.
The Cougars come out of the weekend with a 12-7-0 record this season in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, they sit two points behind the Nationals for fourth place in the Elite 15 Division.
After their big win on Saturday, PHA was stuck in the mud on Sunday morning, falling behind 6-2 to Rink after the first period. They cut the lead down to two heading into the third, but couldn't move any closer.
"Obviously when you spot a team six goals, it's hard to come back, but we battled hard for the last 40 minutes, we potted a couple, so it was good," said Wanner.
PHA came out of the gates slow in both games, Rink jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period in Saturday's game, but PHA responded with three straight goals to open the second period, as Connor McGrath, Austin Reschny, and Kirk Mullen scored to put the Cougars in front 3-2.
The Nationals tied the game before the second was over and neither team could break through in the third period. Cougars goalie Chase Coward made 21 saves between the third and overtime periods and then he stopped all three Rink shooters in the shootout, while Ethan Peters scored for PHA to give them the win.
On Sunday, Rink scored twice in the opening six minutes before Christopher Otterson answered for PHA, but Rink struck back with three more goals.
Atley Calvert stopped the bleeding, scoring his 12th goal of the season with 2:01 left in the first, but Rink took momentum back as defenceman Rory Neill potted a power-play goal with 26 seconds to go in the frame.
Wanner and Reschny scored in the second period for PHA, but that was as close as they would get.
"We did well battling back after deficits [all weekend], but we really need to work on coming hard in the first," said Wanner. "We've got to put a full game together."
Sunday's loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Cougars, but Wanner said it won't hurt their confidence as they've been playing some strong hockey this season.
"We're really starting to come together here," he said. "You can always get better and we just need to keep working."
The Cougars return to the ice on the weekend of Dec. 14 when they head to Edmonton for four games in three days to close out their pre-Christmas schedule.