Saturday, December 3, 2011

Odds and Ends.

The Prince George Cougars are less than six hours away from their fifth meeting of the season with the Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets/Cougars rivalry has not been a friendly one this season for the Cats who are 0-4-0-0 against Kelowna so far.

That being said I think that there are many reasons for the Cougars to feel optimistic heading into tonight's game and beyond.

- The One thing that you can't take away from the Prince George Cougars this season is their compete level and work ethic. It's one thing to lose games when there is a clear lapse in effort. The Cougars have had very few (if any) losses this season stemming from a poor effort. This team knows that if they want to win games they will need to out-work the opposition, and I have no trouble saying that the Cougars have quite often out-worked teams this season but have not been rewarded with a victory.

- Even though the record is what it is, you cannot deny the fact that Dean Clark and Jason Becker are helping these players develop more and more by the day. Nowhere is this more evident than with the six 16-year-olds that are on the roster. I could go on and on (positively) about Jake Mykitiuk, Jarrett Fontaine, Michael Mylchreest, Chase Witala, Jordan Tkatch and Alex Forsberg, but I'll save those opinions for a later piece. The bottom line is that not only are these kids going to be a vital part of this team's future, but they are all contributing members of this team now. I know it's easy to overlook these things when the record is what it is, but from a pure hockey fan's stand-point it has been a treat watching these kids progress on a nightly basis.

- In recent games, Cougars captain Jesse Forsberg has caught my eye (and many others) for all of the right reasons. He was a +2 last night, and continually made smart decisions with the puck and with his body. He is the physical and emotional leader for this team, and I think we are truly starting to witness a healthy and inspired Jesse Forsberg. Tonight in Kelowna I'm expecting Jesse Forsberg to do everything and anything possible to lead his team to victory. That's just the kind of guy he is, and i can't imagine NHL scouts not taking notice.

- What a treat it is to watch Alex Forsberg, Troy Bourke and Spencer Asuchak play together on a nightly basis. These three combined for seven points in last night's game, and they are definitely a threat everytime they are on the ice together. Troy Bourke has been especially impressive as of late. He is incredibly patient with the puck, and knows where to go on the ice to find the most success. Add Alex Forsberg's incredible vision and Spencer Asuchak's size and experience and you've got the makings for a truly dynamic line in this league. If the Cats want to earn two points in Kelowna, it will likely be these three carrying the load offensively.

Some keys for the Cougars tonight:

- Discipline. The Rockets were three-for-four on the power play when these teams last met on Wednesday, November 23rd.

- Blocking Shots. Two goals last night from Kamloops were scored because of point-shots that found their way through traffic. One was tipped while the other went cleanly in. If the Cougars can step up their shot-blocking efforts they'll give themselves a ton of room for success. It will also greatly assist Drew Owsley who usually stops everything he sees.

- Hit the Net. The Cougars had several great chances to score in last night's game that were nullified by the fact that they couldn't hit the net on their opportunities.

- Scoring First. When the Cougars score the first goal they are 7-4-0-1 this season. By contrast, the Cougars have a record of 1-14-0-1 when the opposition scores first. I know that stats aren't everything, but sometimes they can be very telling. The fact is that any hockey team at any level will feel much more confident if they are able to strike first - Especially on the road.

Tonight's game can be heard live on 99.3 The Drive starting at 6:45.

Talk to you then!


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