Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting on 2011.

After an extremely difficult 2010, I am happy to say that 2011 was a great year both personally and professionally.

In January my Dad and I took a father-son trip to Phoenix together and spent lots of time golfing, eating, drinking and watching hockey at the Jobing.com arena. We saw the Phoenix Coyotes defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks before losing to San Jose. We also watched the Phoenix Suns battle the Portland Trail Blazers. Anytime you get to see Steve Nash play basketball, you simply must take advantage of the opportunity.

The Battlefords North Stars hockey season ended sooner than anybody had hoped or planned for, but regardless of the outcome it was another enjoyable season in the Battlefords. It was a pleasuring hosting the SJ This Week with Martin Smith, and I had the joy of hosting the SJHL This Week radio show as well. Little did I know that I had called my final SJHL game in mid-March in Flin Flon. The Bombers defeated the Battlefords North Stars 3-2 in Game Four with Ashton Bernard scoring the series-clinching goal.

The greatest personal moment of 2011 occured in early April in Edmonton. It was there after a 2-0 Vancouver Canucks loss to Edmonton where I proposed to Julie Larson after nearly three years together. She accepted my proposal and agreed to marry me in June of 2012. Nearly eight full months later and I have not once questioned my decision.

It was an incredibly enjoyable summer. The major highlight for me was a road-trip that I took to Las Vegas with Julie, and our friends Steve and Michelle. Together we made our way from Saskatoon to Las Vegas in a Dodge Caravan and had the time of our lives. While Vegas was incredible, I think we'd all agree that we had just as much fun discovering Montana, Idaho and Utah. It was an unforgettable trip and I look forward to many more adventures together.

In late July I went camping with some friends in Meota, SK. It was during a concert that night when I learned that Ken Pearson was leaving the Battlefords to return to Winkler to coach. Little did I know that I would soon be making a similar decision of enormous difficulty.

On the Friday afternoon right before we set out for Meota, I had learned about a vacancy within the Prince George Cougars organization. The Cougars were looking for their next play-by-play broadcaster. Getting to the Western Hockey League had always been a dream of mine, and everything about Prince George made sense in my mind.

That being said, I didn't apply with a ton of confidence. A year earlier I had sent out four different applications for WHL positions and all of them were turned down without much dialogue or debate.

I remember telling my friends around a camp fire that weekend in Meota that, "Prince George makes a ton of sense. But 23 things have to go right here, and we're on number three."

I sent my application the following Monday.

48 hours later I was offered the job.

I often tell people that leaving Saskatchewan was a lot tougher than people realize, but after lengthy discussions with Julie, my friends, my colleagues and my Dad, I knew that it was the right decision to make. At around 7:30 PM on Monday evening, Julie told me "Make the Call" and I did.

Prior to the move I got to enjoy a quick trip to Seattle and also a tremendous engagement party that was hosted by my Dad. These two events helped get me ready for the transition to a new stage in my career and in my life.

The transition from North Battleford to Prince George has been incredibly eventful, but I can honestly say that I've embraced every challenge, every joy, every struggle and every new experience that has come our way.

I am learning something new every day and I am so blessed to be a part of the Prince George Cougars organization. The entire organization has welcomed me from the get-go. They've helped steer me in the right direction and have provided a ton of support to both Julie and I.

I will never forget the feeling of watching the clock hit 'zero' and seeing the Prince George Cougars defeat the Kamloops Blazers 1-0 in my WHL broadcasting debut. Since then I've called some exciting victories and some devastating losses, but the thrill never wears off.

I've been fortunate to meet a ton of great people in my short time in Prince George, and I look forward to strengthening these friendships over the course of time. To all of my fellow WHL broadcasters - Thanks for your help and guidance. I have learned so much from you and I aspire to be like you all in some way shape or form.

I am so proud of Julie for taking an enormous leap of faith and joining me on this journey. She continues to inspire me on a daily basis, and her support has meant so much to me during this time of transition.

My Dad has also been a huge pillar of strength for me. One of the greatest perks about this move was the being closer to him and I have greatly enjoyed the time that we've been able to spend together over the past few months.

To all of my friends both near and far, I am incredibly grateful for your support. Your friendship means more to me than you could ever possibly understand, and I look forward to many more years together.

To all of you who helped make 2011 an unforgettable year for me: Thank you. To the Prince George Cougars staff, players and fans: Thank you for welcoming me in, and allowing me to be a part of your team and your city.

Here's to a successful 2012 both professionally and personally. Thanks for reading and supporting this blog. Your readership means more than you'll ever know.

Dan O'Connor
Voice of the Cougars

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Thoughts.

The Prince George Cougars will wrap up their 2011 schedule tonight with a game in Vancouver against the Giants. The Cougars are 1-4-0-1 against the Giants so far this season and have been outscored 21-12 in those six games altogether.

Let's start with some keys to the game tonight for Prince George:

- Stop Cain Franson. Franson has been a real thorn in the side of the Prince George Cougars. He had five points in two games back on December 16th and 17th. Franson has 35 points through 38 games and has provided the Giants with strong depth.

- Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots. The Prince George Cougars need to find a way to put more pucks on either Adam Morrison or Jackson Whistle. The Cougars have been outshot in all six meetings against the Giants.

- Secondary Scoring. When the Cougars win games, it's usually because of great goaltending and secondary scoring. Last time out the Cougars beat Calgary 3-1, and got goals from three different lines in the process. If the Cougars can get production from more than just the top line, they'll give themselves a good shot.


---

Some other info for you:

- A win for the Cougars tonight would put them at the .500 mark on the road. Heading into tonight's game the Cougars are 9-10-0-1 away from home. The Cats have won three straight games away from CN Centre, and seem to play their best hockey on the road.

- Daulton Siwak (Sea-walk) will make his Cougars debut in tonight's game. Siwak brings some grit, physicality and offensive upside to the Cougars, and also adds some WHL experience. Siwak will likely get time in all situations tonight, and here's hoping that his Cougars debut is a successful one. He will wear number 12 for Prince George.

- Alex Forsberg had an assist for Team West during yesterday's 5-2 loss to Team Pacific.

- So far through two games at the World Juniors, Martin Marincin has recorded one assist.

I'll talk to you from the Rink on Renfrew!

Cougars - Giants Preview.

The Prince George Cougars will wrap up 2011 with a road game tonight in Vancouver. The Cougars are winners of three consecutive games away from home, and are looking to stop a three-game losing skid against the Vancouver Giants.




Overview:

The Vancouver Giants are 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 games and are currently second in the B.C. Division trailing Kamloops by five points. The Giants are 23-13-1-1 through 38 games.



Who’s Up Front:

Although the Giants will be missing the likes of Brendan Gallagher and Marek Tvrdon, they still have plenty of offense that can contribute. Look no further than 18-year-old forward Cain Franson. Franson has 35 points in 38 games, and had five points in two games against the Cougars back in mid-December. Stopping Franson and his linemates will be the primary mission for the Cougars defensively.



Who’s on D:

20-year-old defenceman Neil Manning is the offensive leader for the Giants on the back-end. He’s got a great first pass, is calm with the puck and is responsible defensively.



Who’s in Goal:

20-year-old Adam Morrison is 5-0-0-0 this season against the Cougars and would be the odds-on favorite to get the call again tonight. That being said, Glen Hanlon may decide to roll with Jackson Whistle and give him another crack at the Cougars.



X-Factor:

The Vancouver Giants power play is lethal when you give it enough opportunity. The last time these teams met was on December 17th, and the Cougars took eight penalties. They’ll need to stay disciplined if they want to have success on the road tonight.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are coming off a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday at home. The Cats are 7-4-0-0 in their last 11 games and they head into action tonight just two points back of Victoria for eighth place in the Western Conference standings. Depending on how things go tonight, the Cougars could be a top-eight team by the time 2012 rolls around.



Who’s Up Front:

Troy Bourke was superb for the Prince George Cougars on Wednesday. He scored the team’s first goal and was a force almost every time he took the ice. A similar performance from Bourke and his linemates will go along way tonight in Vancouver.



Who’s on D:

The Prince George Cougars were thrilled to have Reid Jackson back in the lineup on Wednesday, and his impact was felt across the board. He was calm with the puck, responsible defensively and provided Dean Clark with some valuable minutes. I expect that Jackson will only get better with more ice-time and opportunity.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley has started the last 11 games for Prince George and has compiled a record of 7-4-0-0 in the process. But Devon Fordyce will need to get a start sooner or later, and tonight might be a fitting time to give him a go. Fordyce played well for Prince George in Vancouver back on November 13th. Either way you slice it, the Cougars will need strong goaltending from either starter if they want to wrap up 2011 with a victory.



X-Factor:



Secondary scoring. The Cougars got goals from all three lines during Wednesday’s win against Calgary, and they’ll need to get production from everybody on the road tonight if they want to find success.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cats and Rebels Make a Deal

The Cats have found a suitor for Charles Inglis.

The Prince George Cougars have traded 1992-born forward Charles Inglis to the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for 1993-born forward Daulton Siwak and a third-round draft pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.



Siwak (Olds, AB) stands 6’0’ and weighs 190 pounds and has registered five goals and two assists through 18 games this season.

Siwak has spent his entire WHL career with Red Deer and has recorded 20 goals and 39 points through 161 career games. Siwak has also managed five points in 12 career playoff games with the Rebels,

This summer Siwak participated in the NHL research and development camp which is used by the NHL to explore new rule possibilities for upcoming seasons.

Siwak will join the club on their current road-trip through Vancouver and Kamloops.

Cougars Earn 3-1 Victory Over Calgary.

It was a night of firsts for John Odgers, and Austin Daae.

Wednesday in Prince George, the Cougars scored a goal in each period and Drew Owsley made 37 saves to lead the Cougars to a 3-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. John Odgers’ first ever goal was the game-winner, and Austin Daae’s first career goal proved to be the clincher.

After killing off a five-on-three in the first period, the Cougars struck first. Troy Bourke skated across the blueline, made a move and then roofed one past Brandon Glover to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

Calgary outshot Prince George 14-13 in the first, and Drew Owsley was strong in goal.

A scary moment for the Cougars late in the first when John Odgers took a hit along the wall from Jaynen Rissling. Rissling was assessed two minutes for interference, and Odgers went to the dressing room to receive medical attention.

Luckily Odgers returned to start the second period and made his mark towards the end.

A few moments after Cody Sylvester tied the score at one, the Cougars took a 2-1 lead. Josh Smith fired a shot from the right-point that deflected off of john Odgers and in. For Odgers it was his first career WHL goal and the Cougars took a 2-1 lead into the third.

After a back-and-forth start to the frame, the Cougars added some insurance. The insurance goal came courtesy of Austin Daae who finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play that featured Cody Carlson and Caleb Belter.

Drew Owsley did the rest. Owsley made some marvelous saves in all three periods, but was especially impressive in the final minutes. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots faced, and the Cougars won their 13th game of the season.

The Cougars finished zero-for-four on the power play – As did Calgary. The Hitmen outshot Prince George 38-30.

Next up for the Cougars: The Vancouver Giants. The Cats and Giants go head-to-head on Friday night in Vancouver.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cougars - Hitmen Preview.

The Prince George Cougars return to action tonight at CN Centre where they’ll welcome the Calgary Hitmen for the first and only time this season. Last season these teams met twice with each team winning at home.



Overview:



The Calgary Hitmen come into tonight’s game with a record of 17-15-2-1 and they currently hold down the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Calgary has dropped their last three games and are 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the charge offensively for Calgary is 19-year-old Kelowna native Cody Sylvester. Sylvester has 37 points so far through 32 games and has already surpassed his point totals from last season. Sylvester has also shown that he is responsible defensively having posted a +11 rating.



Who’s on D:

20-year-old defenceman Collin Bowman has contributed 14 points in 24 games since joining the Hitmen in a trade from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Bowman has eight goals this season which leads all Calgary d-men.



Who’s in Goal:

The Hitmen boast two very capable goaltenders in Brandon Glover (92) and Chris Driedger (94). Glover is 8-7-0-0 with a goals against average of 3.22 and a save percentage of .876. Driedger is 9-7-2-1 with a goals against average of 3.11. His save percentage is .883.



X-Factor:

Given the absence of Victor Rask and Greg Chase, the Calgary Hitmen will have the top pick of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft Jake Virtanen in the lineup for tonight’s game in Prince George. This will be Virtanen’s first taste of Western Hockey League play and no doubt he’ll want to make an immediate impact.





Overview:



The Prince George Cougars head into tonight’s game having dropped their last two games. That being said they are 6-4 in their last 10 overall, and are three points back of Seattle for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Cats are 12-21-0-2 through 35 games this season.



Who’s Up Front:

With the likes of Alex Forsberg, Chase Witala, Jordan Tkatch and Jarrett Fontaine away at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, more of the offensive responsibility is going to fall onto the shoulders of Troy Bourke, Spencer Asuchak and Greg Fraser. Fraser is second in team goal-scoring with 10 goals, but hasn’t scored since his three-point night back on December 7th aganst Portland. With so many key absences, Fraser will be especially key for picking up some of the offensive slack.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Prince George Cougars remain largely in tact minus Martin Marincin who is playing with Slovakia at the World Juniors. Big minutes will no doubt be given to Dan Gibb, Cody Carlson and Jesse Forsberg and it will be interesting to see whether either Shane Pilling or Reid Jackson are able to suit up. Both defenseman are recovering from injuries sustained before the break. Getting either of those two back in the lineup would be a huge boost for the Cats defensively.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley has started in 10 straight games for the Cougars and in that span he is 6-4-0-0 with a goals against average of 2.80 and a save percentage of .912. Dean Clark may decide to roll Devon Fordyce, who hasn’t started since November 23rd in Kelowna.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars have shown this season that when they score first and start quickly, they tend to find success. The ultimate x-factor tonight for the Cougars will be a fast, aggressive start.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cougars Odds and Ends.

Good morning,

I just wanted to provide a few updates for you as we all get back into the swing of things. The Cougars are set to welcome the Calgary Hitmen tomorrow night to CN Centre. It'll mark the first of two meetings this season between the clubs. You can expect a full preview posted either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, but for now, here is some more food for thought.


- Cougars Alumni forward Brett Connolly scored a goal 53 seconds into the third period while helping Canada to an 8-1 victory over Finland Monday at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

- TSN has announced this morning that Brett Connolly has been promoted to first-line duties with Team Canada. The entire story can be found here.

- Cougars defenceman Martin Marincin will be in action tonight with Slovakia as they face off against Latvia at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Marincin has represented Slovakia in two prior tournaments.

- Congrats to Prince George Cougars prospect defenceman Joseph Carvalho who scored once and added an assist for the Vancouver NW Giants during Day One of the Mac's Tournament in Calgary. Carvalho was named Player of the Game for Vancouver during their 6-2 loss to the UFA Bisons.

- Raymond Grewal had an assist for the Caribbo Cougars during their team's 4-2 loss to Pirati Chomutov.

- Jordan Harris and the Prince Albert Mintos defeated Brett Zarowny and the Leduc Chrysler Oil Kings 5-1. Harris was held off the score-sheet while Zarowny took the loss for Leduc.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cougars Fall 3-1 to Giants.

Saturday in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars fell 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants. Cain Franson scored twice and Adam Morrison stopped 22 of 23 shots for the victory. Alex Forsberg countered with the lone goal for Prince George while Drew Owsley made 32 saves on 34 shots faced.

It was a scoreless game after 20 minutes but it wasn’t for a lack of chances from the Cougars. Adam Morrison made several key stops including one point-blank from Austin Daae. The Giants outshot the Cougars 7-6 in the first period.

Early in the second period the Cougars thought they had taken the lead short-handed. Austin Daae followed up a Greg Fraser shot and put one clean off the cross-bar. Fans celebrated like the Cougars had scored, and a number of teddy bears made their way onto the ice because of Teddy Bear and Toque Toss. The officials reviewed the play and no goal was scored.

The Giants struck first in the second period when Cain Franson received a pass from Dalton Sward and made no mistake for his 13th of the season. Franson added his second of the night at 9:57 on a double-minor power play.

Late in the second period things got tense when Matt Bellerive took a goaltender interference penalty on Drew Owsley. Owsley went after Bellerive and was penalized as well, and the teams started the third period four-on-four.

The Cougars nearly opened the scoring early in the third period, but Jesse Forsberg was denied on a short-handed breakaway by Adam Morrison.

With just over six minutes remaining in the game, Jesse Forsberg dropped the gloves with Luke Fenske after he threw a big body-check. Fans applauded the fight, and proceeded to throw their Teddy Bears onto the ice. The game was delayed for several minutes while numerous helpers cleaned up the ice.

The Cougars then went to a power play because of an instigator penalty to Fenske, and made the Giants pay. Alex Forsberg potted his 11th of the season to give the Cougars some life. For Forsberg it was the third consecutive game where he’s scored.

Unfortunately that was it for the Cougars offense. Austin Vetterl scored an empty-netter and the Giants won it 3-1.

The Giants outshot the Cougars 35-23 and finished one-for-seven on the power play. The Cougars finished one for five on the man advantage in defeat.

Next up, a break for the Cougars. They return to action on December 28th at home against the Calgary Hitmen. They will do so without the services of Alex Forsberg, Jarrett Fontaine, Chase Witala and Jordan Tkatch who are all representing their provinces at the Under-17 Hockey Challenge taking place in Windsor, Ontario starting December 29th.

The Cougars head into the break with a record of 12-21-0-2 and they currently sit ninth in the Western Conference, just one point back of Seattle for eighth place.

Cougars - Giants Preview (Part Two)

The Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants meet again tonight at CN Centre for the sixth time this season. Last night the Giants scored three goals in the third period and earned the 3-2 victory. So far this season the Cougars are 1-4-0-1 against Vancouver.





Overview:

The Vancouver Giants are 21-12-1-1 through 35 games this season and they head into tonight’s game four points out of first place in the B.C. Division.



Who’s Up Front:

With both Brendan Gallagher and Marek Tvrdon attending World Junior matters, the bulk of the offensive responsibility falls onto the shoulders of Jordan Martinook, Cain Franson and Giants captain James Henry. All three were strong in last night’s game, but Franson was particularly effective. Franson had a goal and two assists and now has 32 points on the season.



Who’s on D:

Neil Manning showed last night why he is considered to be one of the top 20-year-old defenseman in the WHL. Manning set up Cain Franson’s breakaway goal and was very dependable at both ends of the ice. Manning will be the focal point tonight on the Giant’s blueline due to the fact that David Musil will be out of the lineup attending the Czech Republic’s World junior camp.



Who’s in Goal:

Vancouver Giants goaltender Adam Morrison became the first WHL goaltender to earn 20 victories last night. Morrison is very active and can play the puck as well as any goaltender in the WHL. He made 19 saves on 21 shots faced and may very well get the call again tonight. If not, then backup Jackson Whistle may be called into action. Whistle is still looking for his first win in the WHL.



X-Factor:

Giants forward Jordan Martinook is second on the team in goal scoring with 20. He trails only Brendan Gallagher for the team lead. Martinok played a strong game last night even though he was held off the score sheet. He gives Vancouver instant offense, and will need to be guarded closely again tonight by the Cougars defense core.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars head into tonight’s game with a record of 12-20-0-2 through 34 games. The Cougars are one point back of eighth place Seattle, and they trail Victoria by four, and Kelowna by five points in the Western Conference standings.



Who’s Up Front;

16-year-old forward Alex Forsberg is playing his best hockey right now for Prince George. Forsberg scored both goals last night for the Cats, and he along with linemates Troy Bourke and Spencer Asuchak provided the Cougars with the most consistency. Forsberg leads the Cougars with 25 points in 34 games.



Who’s on D:

It was a tough night for the Cougars defensively last night. The puck was bouncing around a lot in the defensive zone, and the Cougars (to a man) had trouble winning battles. The Cougars strength is in their depth on the blueline, and I expect that everybody from Dan Gibb through Michael Mylchreest will be ready to go tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley made 30 saves on 33 shots faced last night for Prince George. He was especially sharp in the second period when the Cougars got into some penalty trouble. Owsley’s play likely earns him another crack at the Giants tonight, but Dean Clark could very easily decide to go with Devon Fordyce and give him a start here before the break.



X-Factor:

With only one game remaining before the holiday break the Prince George Cougars are fortunate with the fact that tonight’s game is a Teddy Bear and Toque toss game. It could very well be the largest crowed of the season to date for tonight’s game, and I expect that the crowd alone will be enough to force the Cougars into the right frame of mind. If the Cougars can score early and get the crowd going, they’ll give themselves plenty of self-motivation and confidence. A win tonight for the Cougars could very well push them into the top eight at the break, and while the Cougars still have plenty of time left in the season, that alone would likely help them enjoy their break that much more.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cats Drop a 3-2 Score to Vancouver

Friday in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars dropped a 3-2 score to the Vancouver Giants. Vancouver scored three goals in the third period en route to victory. Prince George countered with two goals from Alex Forsberg.

The Cougars led 1-0 after one period. They opened the scoring at 3:58 when Alex Forsberg’s attempted centering pass careened off a Giant and into the net. For Forsberg it was his ninth of the season.

Vancouver outshot Prince George 7-4 after one period of play.

The second period was scoreless due in large part to the play of Cougars netminder Drew Owsley. Owsley made 14 saves, many of which took place on Giants power plays. Vancouver had three powerplays in the third but could not score.

The Giants did get on the board early in the third. Neil Manning threw a lengthy pass up ice right onto the tape of Cain Franson. Franson went in alone on Drew Owsley and buried his 12th of the season. 1:49 later the Giants struck again – This time it was Taylor Makin who buried his seventh of the season to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.

19 seconds later the Cougars tied it. Alex Forsberg threw a wrist-shot on goal through traffic. The shot went directly over the right shoulder of Adam Morrison and into the net to make it 2-2.

The game stayed tied until 10:19 of the third period. Jackson Houck found a bouncing puck in the slot, and spun and fired a low shot underneath Drew Owsley to give Vancouver the 3-2 lead and the victory.

The Cougars were outshot 33-21 and finished zero-for-one on the power play. With the win, the Giants earned their fourth win of the season against Prince George.

The Cougars record falls to 12-20-0-2 while the Giants improve to 21-12-1-1.

The Cougars will look to get back on track Saturday when they face the Giants again. The Cougars are holding their Teddy Bear and Toque Toss game, which will no doubt create an intense atmosphere at CN Centre.

Cougars - Giants Preview.

The Prince George Cougars return to action tonight at CN Centre. For the fifth time this season, the Cougars will go head-to-head with the Vancouver Giants. Both teams will be missing some key bodies during this weekend’s set of games. But both teams have plenty of depth and talent, and the team that utilizes their depth the best will find the most success.

VANCOUVER GIANTS:

Overview:

The Vancouver Giants are winless in their last two games, and are 5-4-1-0 in their last 10 games. The Giants last played on Tuesday night in Kent, where they lost 3-0 to the Seattle Thunderbirds.



Who’s Up Front:

With both Brendan Gallagher and Marek Tvrdon attending World Junior matters, a lot of the offensive onus will placed onto the shoulders of Giants captain James Henry. So far this season Henry has recorded 32 points in 34 games and he leads the team in assists with 26.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Vancouver Giants are led by the duo of David Musil (93) and Neil Manning (91). Both Manning and Musil lead the Giants in points for defenceman with 16 each. Both are reliable rear-guards and will likely be seeing a ton of big minutes against the Cougars top players.



Who’s in Goal:

Vancouver Giants goaltender Adam Morrison comes into tonight’s contest with a 19-7-1-1 record with a 2.46 Goals Against and a save percentage of .909. Morrison has beaten the Cougars three times this season. Morrison’s backup is 16-year-old Jackson Whistle who is 0-4 on the year.



X-Factor:

The Vancouver Giants are extremely dangerous on special teams. They head into tonight’s game with the league’s 7th ranked power play and the league’s fourth best penalty-kill. No Brendan Gallagher and no Marek Tvrdon will hurt the Giants power play somewhat. But the likes of James Henry, Jordan Martinook and Cain Franson are all capable offensively catalysts, and if given the opportunity on the power play they will make any team pay.


PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS


Overview:

The Prince George Cougars head into tonight’s game with a three-game winning streak. They’ve won six of their last eight overall and are right back in the thick of things in the B.C. Division. Heading into tonight the Cougars trail Seattle by one point, Victoria by three points and Kelowna by four in the Western Conference standings.



Who’s Up Front;

The trio of Spencer Asuchak, Troy Bourke and Alex Forsberg got the ball rolling offensively for the Cougars on Saturday in Spokane. Alex Forsberg and Spencer Asuchak both scored goals, while Asuchak and Troy Bourke each finished with two point games. These three will be front and center again tonight for the Cougars if they are to keep their winning ways going.



Who’s on D:

20-year-old defenceman Cody Carlson finds himself in a three-way tie for the team lead in scoring with 23 points in 33 games. Carlson and his defense partner Dan Gibb have been the epitome of consistent for the Cougars this season, and tonight without the likes of Martin Marincin, those two will be logging a ton of ice time against the Giants top guns.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley has started in eight straight games for the Cougars, and given how well he has played during that stretch he seems to be the favorite to get the call this weekend for the Cougars. Owsley heads into this weekend with a record of 11-16-0-1 and a save percentage of .898. His goals against average is currently sitting at 2.91. Devon Fordyce is Owsley’s backup and earned the Cougars a point against Vancouver in a shootout loss back on November 13th.



X-Factor:

With no Martin Marincin on the back-end a lot of ice-time will have to be made up by the rest of the Cougars blueline. In particular the likes of Jesse Forsberg and Josh Smith will be called upon to make the smart plays and provide the Cougars with consistent and physical defense. If the Cougars get a strong collective effort from their entire squad defensively, they’ll have every opportunity in the world to defeat the Vancouver Giants at home this evening.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cats Host Teddy Bear and Toque Toss on Saturday.

The Prince George Cougars are proud to support the Salvation Army and RCMP Victim Services with the Annual Teddy Bear Toque Toss this Saturday, December 17th when the Cougars take on the Vancouver Giants at the CN Centre.
December 17th is also Ugly Christmas Sweater night. Fans are encouraged to wear their ugliest holiday sweaters for the chance to win some great prizes courtesy of Booster Juice, Coast Inn of the North and Mr. Quick Lube & Oil.

The Teddy Bear and Toque Toss game has become one of the most popular nights during the Cougars season. When the Cougars score their first goal of the game, fans will have the opportunity to launch their Teddy Bear and Toque donations onto the ice. The donations will benefit the RCMP Victim Services Unit, the Salvation Army and other organizations in need over the holiday season. Stuffed dogs provided by Husky and Mohawk and teddy bears provided by Shaw will be available for purchase by cash donation on the concourse that evening; the cash donations will support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince George.

In addition to the Salvation Army and RCMP Victim Services, the Prince George Minor Hockey Association, Wood Wheaton Supercentre and Save On Foods will be on hand to assist with the clean-up on the ice.

“Our Annual Teddy Bear Toque Toss is a great way to celebrate the Christmas season with family and friends and gives our fans another opportunity to brighten the holidays for those in need,” said Cougars Vice President, Brandi Brodsky.

Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets at discounted group rates; for more information contact the Cougars office at 250-561-0783.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Connolly Cracks Team Canada's Roster.

Prince George Cougars alumni forward Brett Connolly was named to Team Canada's 2012 World Junior Hockey Roster on Wednseday morning. Connolly will dawn the Maple Leaf for a second time at the World Juniors, having earned a silver medal with Canada last season in Buffalo, NY. Team Canada's quest for Gold begins on Boxing Day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cats Complete the Comeback!

The Prince George Cougars continue to find a way to win.

Saturday night in Spokane the Prince George Cougars erased a 3-0 third period defecit and defeated the Spokane Chiefs 4-3 in a shootout. Cody Carlson had the game tying goal on a third period power play and added the shootout winner to give the Cougars their third straight victory.

The Spokane Chiefs led 1-0 after one period of play. Jason Fram scored the ‘Teddy Bear’ goal for Spokane at 13:06 of the first. Fram fired a point-shot through traffic and the puck found it’s way through Drew Owsley.

Following a lengthy delay the period continued with neither team able to capitalize. The Prince George Cougars had their chances, but they missed a couple of nets, and Mac Engel stood tall and made some key stops for Spokane.

The second period belonged to Spokane. They held the Prince George Cougars just four shots on goal and added two more of their own. The first one came from Anthony Bardaro, who scored at 15:10 off a turnover in the defensive zone. Spokane added to the lead 1:13 later when Steven Kuhn deflected home a Tyler King point shot. The shots on goal were 19-9 after forty minutes of play.

Early in the third period the Prince George Cougars found some life. Alex Forsberg took a Dan Gibb pass and fired a shot past Mac Engel from the slot to give the Cougars their first goal of the game.

The Cats inched closer at 14:01 of the third when Jordan Tkatch banged home a Chase Witala rebound for his eighth of the season. The play started with Greg Fraser taking the puck wide on Chiefs defenceman Tyler King who lost his footing. Fraser found Witala who’s shot was stopped, but Tkatch put the rebound home.

Moments later the Spokane Chiefs were penalized four-minutes when Reid Gow high-sticked Troy Bourke. Bourke and the Cougars would make him pay. Bourke assisted on Cody Carlson’s power play equalizer, and the Prince George Cougars had stormed all the way back from a three-goal deficit.

The Cougars had another power play chance in overtime, but were unable to score. The closest the Cougars would come was during the final seconds of overtime when Spencer Asuchak hit the cross-bar on a shot from the left-wing.

65 minutes solved nothing and the Cougars headed to a shootout for a fourth time on the season.

Blake Gal gave Spokane an early shootout lead when he squeaked one past Drew Owsley. The Cougars quickly countered with a goal from Alex Forsberg and tied it up. Drew Owsley stopped the next attempts from Anthony Bardardo, Dominick Uher and Mitch Holmberg .

Troy Bourke and Chase Witala both came close but could not beat Mac Engel. Cody Carlson changed that on the Cougars fourth attempt of the shootout.

The Prince George Cougars won their third straight game, and sixth in their last eight. They finished the game one-for-five on the power play and killed off both penalties that they took against the Chiefs.

The Cougars record now sits at 12:19-0-2 and the Cougars remain in eighth place in the WHL’s Western Conference.

Up next for the Cougars – Two games at home against the Vancouver Giants on December 16th and 17th.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cougars - Chiefs Preview.

The Prince George Cougars road trip continues tonight in Spokane, Washington. The Cougars and Spokane Chiefs meet for a second time this season. The Cougars posted a 5-4 victory in Spokane on November 26th, and will look to build off of last night’s 1-0 win in Seattle.



Overview:

The Spokane Chiefs are 14-9-2-2 through 27 games this season. The Chiefs are coming off a victory against Everett last night, and are 5-4-1-0 in their last 10 outings. Spokane currently sits third in the US Division behind Tri City and Portland.



Who’s Up Front:

The Spokane Chiefs are led offensively by 19-year-old Anthony Bardaro. Bardaro has 16 goals and leads the Chiefs with 33 points in 25 games. Bardaro scored once for Spokane in the last meeting between these teams. Bardaro is strong on the puck and has a quick release.



Who’s on D:

Spokane’s top defenseman Brendan Kitchton is attending Team Canada’s World Junior tryout and (barring anything unexpected) will not play for Spokane tonight. Kitchton has 29 points in 27 games for Spokane and was easily one of Spokane’s best players two weeks ago when these teams last met. But the Cougars don’t have a free ride by any means. Spokane still has a number of other quality blueliners like Reid Gow, Davis Vandane and Corbin Baldwin who can log a lot of key minutes for the Chiefs. Baldwin and Vandane really stood out two weeks ago.



Who’s in Goal:

An interesting decision for the Chiefs tonight. Two weeks ago these started Luke Lee-Knight who struggled against the Cougars surrendering four goals on just 10 shots faced. Maybe they give him the shot again tonight for a chance at redemption. Or maybe they go with Mac Engel who surrendered only one goal in relief against the Cougars on November 26th. Engel did play last night in Everett and made 23 saves in victory.



X-Factor:

92-born center Dominik Uher has tallied 19 points in 23 games so far this season for Spokane. Two weeks ago he played a tenacious, consistent game for Spokane. He’s strong at both ends of the ice, and provides a nice compliment offensively to the lies of Bardaro and Kitchton.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are eyeing their third victory in a row and their sixth in their last eight games. They head into tonight’s contest with a record of 11-19-0-2. They currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds.



Who’s Up Front:

While no forwards scored for Prince George during last night’s 1-0 victory, they all played well collectively. The trio of Spencer Asuchak, Alex Forsberg and Troy Bourke were dominant through big stretches of the game, and had it not been for Calvin Pickard in goal, the above three could have had a much more successful night offensively.



Who’s on D:

Cody Carlson supplied the lone goal for the Prince George Cougars in last night’s victory. Carlson has scored three times on the power play this season, and his 22 points have him tied with Alex Forsberg for the team lead in scoring. Carlson has also contributed defensively as well. He’s continued to provide Dean Clark with solid minutes and timely shot-blocks.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley is on a roll right now for the Prince George Cougars. He earned a 24-save shutout in last night’s game, and he now leads the WHL with three shutouts on the year.



X-Factor:

When the Prince George Cougars score first, they win way more often than not. They have a record of 10-4-0-1 when they strike first and they’ll look to do so again tonight in Spokane. Historically Spokane has not been a kind facility to the Cougars, but scoring first should definitely help the Cougars keep things settled on the road. Tonight is Spokane’s Teddy Bear Toss night, which should also help provide some extra motivation for the Cougars.

Cats Blank T-Birds.

Friday in Kent, the Prince George Cougars blanked the Seattle Thunderbirds 1-0. Cody Carlson scored the game’s lone goal and Drew Owsley stopped all 24 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season.

The Prince George Cougars grabbed momentum early. They outshot Seattle 14-9 in the first period and out-chanced them by a wide margin. Seattle goaltender Calvin Pickard was sharp making several tough saves to keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes of play.

The Cougars had a big territorial edge in the first, and were able to draw a late power play.

Early in the second the Cougars struck on the man-advantage when Cody Carlson fired a point-shot past Calvin Pickard to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead. For Carlson it was his fourth of the season.

The Cougars kept coming, but Calvin Pickard kept the door shut for Seattle.

Tempers started to boil over in the second period. Campbell Elynuik and Jacob Doty had a spirited fight, and Greg Fraser and Kyle Verdino both dropped their gloves and were ready to go – But the linesmen stepped between the two of them and the fight was broken up before it even started. It was 1-0 for the Cougars through two periods of play and the Cougars were outshooting Seattle 27-13 after 40 minutes.

Prince George got into some penalty trouble in the third period. Campbell Elynuik was kicked out of the game for a boarding-major penalty, but Seattle was unable to capitalize. The Cats penalty-kill killed off all three penalties that they took while their power play went one-for-four.

Seattle had their moments in the third, as did the Cougars – But both Drew Owsley and Calvin Pickard made timely saves. A late penalty from Branden Trook was the final straw for Seattle who spen the remainder of the game short-handed.

With the victory the Cougars improve their road record to 8-10-0-1, and their overall record jumps to 11-19-0-2 through 32 games. The Cougars have won five of their last seven games and now sit alone in eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

The Cougars will look for their third straight victory on Saturday when they face the Spokane Chiefs on the road.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Odds and Ends.

Here is a mish-mash of thoughts as the Prince George Cougars head into action tonight with the Seattle Thunderbirds:


- It's great to see that the Prince George Cougars are finding the back of the net with a little more consistency. They've now gone seven consecutive games scoring three or more times. What's equally impressive is the fact that the Cougars have been getting their goals from all across the board. If the likes of Jordan Tkatch, Chase Witala and Greg Fraser can continue to supply secondary offense, it takes some of the opposition's focus away from Alex Forsberg, Troy Bourke and Spencer Asuchak.

- Drew Owsley has had a ton of success against the Seattle Thunderbirds over the course of his WHL career. Owsley has a 13-2-0-0 record against Seattle and was marvelous against the Thunderbirds back on November 25th. Congrats to Owsley for playing in his 150th regular season game on Wednesday against Portland.

- Special teams is a factor in most games, and tonight I'm expecting much the same. The Cougars head into tonight's game with a league-low 12.1% success rate on the man-advantage. The Cougars are right in the middle of the penalty-killing pack with a 78.4% success rate. The Cougars are ranked 11th on the PK and 22nd on the PP. The Seattle Thunderbirds come into tonight's game ranked 18th in penalty-kill (74.6%) and 14th on the power play (20.2%)

- The Cougars head into action tonight trailing Seattle by just a single point in the Western Conference standings. Seattle (11-14-0-1) have 23 points while the Cougars (10-19-0-2) have recorded 22. The Thunderbirds do hold five games in hand, which makes tonight's result that much more important for the Cougars who are also within four points of the Victoria Royals in the B.C. Division. Tonight the Royals are hosting Lethbridge.

- Classy move by Tampa Bay allowing Brett Connolly to represent Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. He'll add instant offense and a ton of character to Canada's lineup.

We'll talk to you tonight from the broadcast booth in Kent!

Cougars - Thunderbirds Preview.

The Prince George Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds will meet for the second time tonight at the Showare Center in Kent, Washington. These teams last met two weeks ago where the Cougars defeated Seattle 3-2 in a shootout. Only one point separates these teams in the standings, and a win for the Cougars tonight could see them back in the top eight of the WHL’s Western Conference.



Overview:

Though they have lost their last two games, the Seattle Thunderbirds are 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games and they currently sit fourth in the US Division. The Thunderbirds are 11-14-0-1 on the year.

Who’s Up Front:

The Seattle Thunderbirds are led offensively by 20-year-old forward Burke Gallimore. Gallimore has 21 points through 26 games this season and leads the Thunderbirds with 14 goals on the season.

Who’s on D:

The Thunderbirds top point-producer from the back end is 16-year-old Shea Theodore. Theodore has 13 points through 23 games, and played a ton two weeks ago when these teams last met. Theodore spent a lot of time on the power play, and is a strong puck-mover and has a good shot.

Who’s in Goal:

The Seattle Thunderbirds will likely be led to battle by 19-year-old netminder Calvin Pickard. Pickard is 11-11-0-1 this season through 23 games and has a save percentage of .908 and a goals against average of 3.60. Pickard played well for Seattle two weeks ago against the Cougars, and will no doubt be ready to go tonight if called upon. Pickards backup is 17-year-old Daniel Cotton.

X-Factor:

1992-born forward Marcel Noebels is a fun player to watch. He combines size (6’3”) with skill (20 points) and is a big-time threat on the power play. Noebels leads the Thunderbirds with four power play goals this season, and he’ll need to be contained by the Cougars tonight.



Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are coming off a spirited 4-3 overtime victory over the Portland Winterhawks. The Cougars are 4-6 in their last 10 games, but have won four of their last six games overall. The Cougars are 1-0-0-0 this season so far against Seattle.

Who’s Up Front:

Cougars forward Greg Fraser record his first ever three-point game in the WHL on Wednesday against Portland. Fraser led the Cougars with two goals, including the OT winner. Fraser has a team-high 10 goals this season and has recently found some chemistry alongside Chase Witala who also had three points in Wednesday’s victory.

Who’s on D:

17-year-old josh Smith collected his first ever WHL goal in Wednesday’s game with Portland. Smith has always had some offensive upside, and it’s great to see him get the first goal under his belt. Smith is physical, quick and is only going to get better for the Cougars with time.

Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley is red hot right now for the Prince George Cougars. He made 79 saves in two games earlier this week against Portland, and has been one of the Cougars most consistent players through 31 games this season. Owsley has 13-2-0-0 lifetime against Seattle which definitely gives him and the Cougars some confidence heading into tonight’s game.

X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars scored seven goals in two games earlier this week with Portland. The strange thing was that the trio of Alex Forsberg, Troy Bourke and Spencer Asuchak did not factor in to any of those goals. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of chances or opportunity, and those three will no doubt be front and center in the Cougars attack during tonight’s game.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cats Sink Winterhawks in O.T.

Wednesday night in Prince George the Prince George Cougars beat the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in overtime. Greg Fraser scored the OT winner at 2:55 of overtime to lead the Cougars to victory. Fraser had two goals and an assist while Chase Witala had a goal and two assists. Cougars netminder Drew Owsley made 39 saves to record his ninth victory of the season.

The first period ended with a zero-zero score, but the Cougars have their penalty-kill and goaltender to thank for that. The Winterhawks outshot Prince George 17-3 and had three power play chances but were unable to capitalize.

Early in the second period the Prince George Cougars woke up in a big way. Greg Fraser’s initial shot was stopped by Brendan Burke, but the rebound came free for Josh Smith who potted his first ever WHL goal to give the Cougars the 1-0 lead.

The lead did not last long as Brad Ross tied it at 6:34 unassisted as he intercepted a Cougars clearing attempt, and beat Drew Owsley up high.

The Cougars rebounded with two unanswered goals. The first came via Chase Witala who knocked home a Dan Gibb rebound past Brendan Burke for his second of the season.

The Cats shortly followed with a goal from Greg Fraser and late in the period they led 3-1.

The Cougars were given a power play in the final two minutes of the second, but it was Portland who stole momentum. After a highly controversial non-call on a Winterhawk collision with Cody Carlson behind the play, Ty Rattie stole the puck and raced in alone on Drew Owsley. Rattie made no mistake for his 32nd of the season.

The Cougars took a 3-2 lead into the third period.

The Winterhawks quickly got back even in the third when Nicolas Petan buried his seventh off a pass from Sven Bartschi at 4:13 of the frame.

From there, it was all Drew Owsley. The Prince George netminder made several highlight reel stops in the third period, and kept the game tied with time winding down.

Halfway through overtime the Cougars raced up ice on a two-on-one. Martin Marincin led the rush up the right wing and then he slid a pass to Greg Fraser who made no mistake for his second of the night, and team leading 10th of the season.

It was the first victory of the season for the Cougars in overtime, and third of the season at CN Centre. Both the Cougars and Winterhawks went zero-for-four on the power play, and the Winterhawks outshot the Cougars 42-24 through 63 minutes of play.

The win improves the Cougars record to 10-19-0-2 and moves them within one point of the Seattle Thunderbirds for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Fittingly the Cougars and Thunderbirds are squaring off on Friday in Kent, Washington.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cougars - Winterhawks Preview (Dec 7)

The Prince George Cougars and Portland Winterhawks will duke it out again tonight at CN Centre. Last night Portland escaped with a 5-3 victory thanks to a game-winning goal that came with just 1:25 left on the clock. A great effort from the Cougars, but a bad result none the less, and the Cougars will look to make amends tonight.



Overview:

Mike Johnston’s Portland Winterhawks are 20-9-1-1 through 31 games and are currently ranked second in the US division behind only the Tri City Americans. The Winterhawks have won five straight games overall.

Who’s Up Front:

The Portland Winterhawks received more than enough offense from 18-year-old forward Ty Rattie in last night’s game. Rattie scored three goals and has now registered 31 goals in 30 games. The duo of Ty Rattie and Sven Bartschi may be the most lethal twosome in the entire league, and they put their skills on full display last night.

Who’s on D:

Defensively the player that stood out the most in last night’s game was 17-year-old Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot is in his draft-year and is being touted by many as being an early first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Pouliot has great vision, strong patience, and does not panic with the puck at all.

Who’s in Goal:

In goal the Winterhawks are led by 19-year-old Mac Carruth. Carruth has played in 29 games this season and has posted a record of 19-8-1-0. He stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced last night for the victory. Carruth is very confident playing the puck and to his credit made some very timely saves in all three periods last night. Mike Johnston may decide to go with backup 16-year-old Brendan Burke, who will no doubt be ready if called upon tonight.

X-Factor:

The Portland Winterhawks are led by both Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie, but do not for one moment underestimate Toronto Maple Leaf’s prospect Brad Ross. Ross has scored 18 goals this season and is third on the team in scoring with 36 points in 31 games. Ross scored the empty-netter in last night’s game but added an assist, and was dangerous quite often last night.



Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are looking to redeem themselves after last night’s tough setback. Dean Clark’s team have lost their last four games at home, and are 2-9-0-1 at CN Centre this season.

Who’s Up Front:

The Prince George Cougars were led offensively by the trio of Jordan Tkatch, Jarrett Fontaine and Austin Daae in last night’s game. Tkatch was credited with two goals while Daae and Fontaine both got on the score-sheet with assists. Tkatch has now scored seven goals this season, he along with all of the other 16-year-olds on the roster are making tremendous strides are both ends of the ice.

Who’s on D:

Cody Carlson extended his point-scoring streak to nine games last night with an assist on the first Cougars goal. Carlson is second overall in team scoring with 21 points through 30 games, and is one of just three players (the others being Alex Forsberg and Greg Fraser) who have played in every single game this season for the Cougars.

Who’s in Goal:

The Prince George Cougars got great goaltending last night from Drew Owsley who stopped 40 of the 44 shots he faced. Owsley didn’t have much of a chance on any of the goals that beat him last night, and a similar effort from Owsley should give the Cougars a great chance to win in tonight’s game. Owsley is 11-3-1-0 lifetime against Portland.

X-Factor:

The Cougars are going to need the trio of Troy Bourke, Alex Forsberg and Spencer Asuchak to provide some offense tonight for the Cougars. It’s great that the Cougars are receiving balanced scoring from all of their lines, but they’re going to need their top point producers to do just that and lead the charge. A big night from the Cougars big line will go a long way for the Cougars who are looking for their 10th victory of the season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cougars Drop a Heartbreaker to Portland.

Tuesday night in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars lost a heart breaker. Nicolas Petan scored a goal with 1:25 left in the third period to break a 3-3 tie, and the Portland Winterhawks escaped with a 5-3 victory over the Prince George Cougars. Jordan Tkatch scored twice for the Cougars, while Ty Rattie notched a hat-trick for Portland in the victory.

The Winterhawks led 2-0 after the first period thanks to two unanswered goals from Ty Rattie. Rattie’s first came on a power play at the 12:52 mark of the first period. Rattie grabbed a loose puck at the side of the goal and knocked it home for his 29th of the season.

Less than four minutes later Rattie struck again. This time his linemate Sven Bartschi did most of the grunt work as he deked his way through a number of defenders and found Rattie at the other side of the goal for his second of the game and 30th of the year. Portland outshot Prince George 17-10 after one.

The Cougars found some life in the second period thanks to 16-year-old sniper Jordan Tkatch. Tkatch received a breakaway pass from Jarrett Fontaine and made no mistake on a back-hand deke. For Tkatch it was his sixth of the season and his first goal at CN Centre this season. Less than four minutes later Jordan Tkatch struck again on the power play. Right off the face-off the puck came free to Tkatch who wired it past Mac Carruth for his seventh of the season and second of the night.

Early in the third period the Cougars took their first lead of the game when Martin Marincin skated the puck into the slot from the right wing and flipped one past Mac Carruth for his third of the season.

The Cougars lead would be short-lived as Ty Rattie buried his third of the game thanks to a sly pass from Nicolas Petan along the right wing.

The game winded down with both teams trading chances. Cougars goaltender Drew Owsley came up big multiple times down the stretch.

Late in the third with less than two minutes to go, the Cougars won a faceoff in their own zone. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the puck was knocked off of Dan Gibb’s stick in front of the goal. Sven Bartschi found the puck and slid it back-door to the waiting Nicolas Petan who scored his sixth of the season to give Portland the 4-3 lead.

Seconds later the Cougars had a great chance to tie it, but Mac Carruth made a bit stop off of Shane Pilling, and Brad Ross then iced the game with an empty-netter.

Both teams finished one-for-two on the power play while Winterhawks outshot the Cougars 45-38. For the Cougars it was their seventh one-goal loss at home this season. The Cougars record falls to 9-19-0-2 while Portland improves their mark to 20-9-1-1.

The Cougars get a chance at redemption tomorrow night when they once again host Portland at 7:00.

Dec 6th Photos vs. Portland

*All Photos By: Julie Larson



Alex Forsberg Pursues the Puck



Another Strong Game from Campbell Elynuik



Martin Marincin Would Later Score in the Third Period.



Drew Owsley made 40 Saves.

Cougars - Winterhawks Preview.

After two weeks and five games on the road, the Prince George Cougars return to CN Centre tonight for the first of two consecutive games with the Portland Winterhawks. Last season the Cougars were winless in four games with Portland. The Cats though have won three of their last four overall and head into tonight just three points back of Seattle for eighth in the Western Conference.



Overview:

Mike Johnston’s Portland Winterhawks are 19-9-1-1 through 30 games and are currently ranked second in the US division behind only the Tri City Americans. The Winterhawks are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games, and have won four in a row.

Who’s Up Front:

The Portland Winterhawks have many explosive players up front, but none more explosive than St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie. Rattie has 28 goals in 29 games this season and has tallied 55 points on the season. Rattie was named the Husky WHL Player of the Month for November.

Who’s on D:

Defensively the Winterhawks are led by two very promising players. 18-year-old Joseph Morrow and 17-year-old Derrick Pouliot. Morrow has 26 points through 24 games and is fourth in the Western Hockey League for points among defenceman. Of Morrow’s 26 points, nine of them are goals.

Who’s in Goal:

In goal the Winterhawks are led by 19-year-old Mac Carruth. Carruth has played in 28 games this season and has posted a record of 18-8-1-0. Carruth has a save percentage of .907 and a goals against of 2.86. Carruth is backed up by 16-year-old Brendan Burke.

X-Factor:

While Ty Rattie’s 55 points in 28 games is an impressive stat, one can’t overlook the numbers that 19-year-old forward Sven Bartschi has put up. In just 21 games, Bartschi has tallied 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points.



Overview:

Dean Clark’s team has won three of their last four games and are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games overall. The Cougars were winners in their last game – A 3-2 victory against the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday.

Who’s Up Front:

The Prince George Cougars will once again look to the trio of Troy Bourke, Alex Forsberg and Spencer Asuchak to lead the way offensively tonight. Bourke has registered six points in his last five games, while Alex Forsberg is coming off a two-goal night in Kelowna Saturday. These three are continuing to find success together, and they’ll need to do their best to equal if not better the output put forth by Portland’s top scorers.

Who’s on D:

The Prince George Cougars have proven this season that they can keep top scorers in check. Keep in mind that the Tri City Americans (top team in the US division) scored a total of two goals in two games earlier this season in Prince George. The Cougars will need a similar performance defensively from everybody. The Cougars will need to minimize the Winterhawks opportunities. They’ve done it before, and are certainly capable of doing so again.

Who’s in Goal:

The Prince George Cougars have a wild-card up their sleeve, and the wild card is Drew Owsley. Owsley is no stranger to the Portland Winterhawks, and has a career record of 11-2-1-0 against them. If the Prince George Cougars are going to beat Portland, Drew Owsley is going to be a huge piece of the puzzle. He’s done it before, and could very well do so again tonight and tomorrow provided he gets the right kind of help.

X-Factor:

The Cougars have won three of their last four games. A common trend in those three victories was an early goal. When the Cougars score first they are 8-4-0-1 on the season. The Cougars will certainly have their hands full this week with Portland, but they can make life much easier on themselves by scoring first and getting some confidence going.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cougars Edge Rockets in Kelowna.

Saturday in Kelowna the Prince George Cougars defeated the Kelowna Rockets 3-2. Martin Marincin had two assists, and Campbell Elynuik, Cody Carlson and Alex Forsberg supplied for the offense en route to the Cougars ninth win of the season.

The Cats drew first blood early in the first. Campbell Elynuik grabbed a loose puck in the middle of the ice and skated down the right wing. He fired a shot on Adam Brown that squeezed it’s way through to give Prince George a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars then went to a double-minor power play when Chase Witala was high-sticked by Mitch Chapman, but were unable to capitalize.

The Rockets tied the score at one at 17:23 of the period. Brett Bulmer out-waited the Cougars defense and Drew Owsley and buried his ninth of the year.

The Cougars and Rockets were tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play and the Cougars outshot Kelowna 9-3.

The Rockets went up 2-1 at 6:25 of the second period when Carter Rigby beat Drew Owsley with a wrist-shot off the left-wing.

The Cougars came close to tying it up mid-way through the second when Cody Carlson left the penalty-box and was sprung on a breakaway. Carlson was denied by Adam Brown point-blank and the Rockets held the lead.

Late in the period, the Cougars went to the power play, and Cody Carlson got a measure of revenge on Adam Brown. Troy Bourke slid a pass across the ice to Carlson who one-timed it home for his third of the season. Carlson’s goal helped increase his scoring streak to eight games.

The Cougars and Rockets were tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, and the Cougars were outshooting Kelowna 20-14.

Early in the third the Cougars took their second and last lead of the game. Adam Brown stopped Martin Marincin’s initial shot, but Alex Forsberg grabbed the rebound and back-handed one by Adam Brown to give the Cats the lead.

The Cougars came close a number of times to increasing their lead, but to his credit, Adam Brown played strongly for Kelowna down the stretch.

The Rockets had a few opportunities themselves, but Drew Owsley stood his ground and was flawless when it mattered most. The Cougars outshot Kelowna 12-4 in the final period and earned the victory.

The Cougars finished the game one-for-five on the power play and outshot Kelowna 31-18 overall. For the Cougars it was their third win in their last five games, and they moved within three points of eighth place Seattle in the WHL’s Western Conference.

Next up for the Cougars – Two home games this week against Portland on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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!

DO
Tonight the Prince George Cougars and Kelowna Rockets will lock horns for the fifth time this season. The Cougars are coming off a 5-4 set-back to the Kamloops Blazers, and are seeking their first victory of the season against the Kelowna Rockets.



Overview:

Ryan Huska’s Kelowna Rockets are currently ranked fourth in the B.C. Division with an 11-13-2-1 record. The Rockets are 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games but are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Victoria Royals last night.



Who’s Up Front:

Shane McColgan continues to produce steady offense for Kelowna. In 26 games he has seven goals and 30 points. McColgan has great vision and is very strong on the puck.



Who’s on D:

Damon Severson continues to lead the way offensively for Kelowna from the back end. Through 27 games, Severson has three goals and 16 assists for 19 points. His 19 points put him third overall in team scoring.



Who’s in Goal:

20-year-old Adam Brown has started in all four games against Prince George this season and has beaten them in all four games. Jordan Cooke played last night for Kelowna which likely means that Brown will get the call tonight. This season Brown is 9-11 through 20 starts. He’s got a goals against average of 3.70 and a save percentage of .880.



X-Factor:

Colton Scissons has scored goals in five of his last six games, and leads the Kelowna Rockets with 15 goals on the year. He’s only two goals away from matching his goal total from last season. He has been especially dangerous on the power play scoring eight of his 15 goals on the man-advantage.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are coming off a difficult 5-4 loss to the Kamloops Blazers. The Cougars worked very hard, and played a strong game, but did not end up on the right side of the scoreboard. Tonight the Cougars look to snap a lengthy losing skid against Kelowna.



Who’s Up Front:

The trio of Alex Forsberg, Spencer Asuchak and Troy Bourke were outstanding in last night’s game. They combined for seven points, and both Forsberg and Bourke had three-point games. Bourke in particular has really stepped up his game lately.



Who’s on D:

The duo of Dan Gibb and Cody Carlson will likely be busy again tonight as they get set to face off with Kelowna. Carlson is second on the team in scoring with 19 points, while Gibb continues to earn praises from the coaching staff for his dependable, two-way play.



Who’s in Goal:

With the status of Devon Fordyce up in the air for tonight, I’d expect to see Drew Owsley get the call again for Prince George. Last night Owsley faced 32 shots and stopped 27 of them. The Cougars will need Owsley to bring a similar effort that saw him record back-to-back victories in Seattle and Spokane.



X-Factor:

Cougars defenceman Martin Marincin is on the verge of breaking out. Marincin has had numerous chances in recent weeks but has not been able to capitalize. When Martin Marincin is on his game there are few defenceman in this league (if any) that are more dynamic and confident. A strong outing from Marincin tonight should give the Cougars a great shot at winning in Kelowna.

Blazers Squeak By Cougars 5-4.

Friday in Kamloops the Prince George Cougars fell 5-4 to the Kamloops Blazers. Brendan Ranford’s power play marker at 13:11 of the third proved to be the difference as the Cougars fell a single goal short.

Kamloops opened the scoring at 12:54 of the opening period when Tim Bozon threw a long wrist-shot on goal that beat Drew Owsley.

Once the teddy bears were cleaned off the ice, the Prince George Cougars took momentum and quickly tied the score. Alex Forsberg knocked home his fifth of the season off a Troy Bourke rebound, which tied the score at one.

Kamloops quickly countered with a goal from Chase Souto. Souto walked in from the left wing and slid a low shot into the net to give the Blazers a 2-1 through 20 minutes.

Early in the second the Cougars tied it up. Jake Mykitiuk went hard to the net and re-directed a Cody Carlson point-shot past Cam Lanigan to even the score at two.

The Cougars were then given two straight power plays but were unable to get the puck past Cam Lanigan. Spencer Asuchak had the best chance of the period, but Lanigan turned him aside.

At the other end Drew Owsley made a terrific save off of Matthew Needham to keep the game locked at two.

Late in the second period the Cougars were short-handed for nearly four full minutes when Linden Springer was penalized twice for slashing. Kamloops struck late in the second penalty when Matthew Needham tipped home a Bronson Maschmeyer shot to make it 3-2.

The Cougars wasted no time tying the game up in the third. Spencer Asuchak received a Troy Bourke pass off a two-on-one and out-waited Cam Lanigan for his eighth goal of the season.

But again the Kamloops Blazers had an answer. Less than two minutes later Tyler Bell scored his first of the season from the left-point and for a fourth time in the game, Kamloops had the lead.

Brendan Ranford padded the lead to 5-3 when he re-directed a Matthew Needham pass by Drew Owsley. Ranford’s goal came on the power play.

The Cougars drew within one on a power play tally of their own. Troy Bourke and Alex Forsberg connected again, this time with Troy Bourke pulling the trigger for his eighth goal of the season.

Campbell Elynuik nearly tied it on the very next shift, but Cam Lanigan made a sprawling pad-save.

The Cougars continued to press, but were unable to beat Lanigan one last time, and the Blazers skated to victory.

The Cougars were outshot 32-29 and finished one-for-three on the power play.

Afterwards, Cougars head-coach Dean Clark had many complimentary things to say about his team’s effort, but he brought up a lack of discipline as the main downfall of his team.

Cody Carlson kept his point-streak going and has now registered a point in seven straight games.

The Cougars are back at it tomorrow (Saturday) night in Kelowna. It’ll be the fifth meeting of the season between the Cougars and the Rockets.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Teddy Bear Toss Info.

The Prince George Cougars are proud to support the Salvation Army and RCMP Victim Services with the Annual Teddy Bear Toque Toss on Saturday, December 17th when the Cougars take on the Vancouver Giants at the CN Centre. December 17th is also Ugly Christmas Sweater night. Fans are encouraged to wear their ugliest holiday sweaters for the chance to win some great prizes courtesy of our sponsors.

The Teddy Bear and Toque Toss game has become one of the most popular nights during the Cougars season. When the Cougars score their first goal of the game, fans will have the opportunity to launch their Teddy Bear and Toque donations onto the ice. The donations will benefit the RCMP Victim Services Unit, the Salvation Army and other organizations in need over the holiday season. Stuffed dogs provided by Husky and Mohawk and teddy bears provided by Shaw will be available for purchase by cash donation on the concourse that evening; the cash donations will support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince George.

The Prince George Minor Hockey Association, Wood Wheaton Supercentre and Save On Foods will be on hand to assist with the clean-up on the ice.

“Our Annual Teddy Bear Toque Toss is a great way to celebrate the Christmas season with family and friends and gives our fans another opportunity to brighten the holidays for those in need,” said Cougars Vice President, Brandi Brodsky.

Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets at discounted group rates; for more information contact the Cougars office at 250-561-0783.

Cougars - Blazers Preview.

The Prince George Cougars and Kamloops Blazers are set to meet up for the fifth time this season. So far each team has managed two victories with each team posting one shutout. The Cougars took the last meeting 3-1 back on Saturday, November 5th.



Overview:

The Kamloops Blazers are winners of four straight games and currently ranked first in the B.C. Division. The Blazers have surrendered just 73 goals on the season which is third best overall in the Western Hockey League.



Who’s Up Front:

Offensively the Kamloops Blazers are led by 18-year-old forward Colin Smith. Through 26 games Smith has recorded 29 points, including a team high 14 goals. Smith is a +13 on the year and is second on the team in plus-minus.



Who’s on D:

Austin Madaisky leads the charge from the back-end for the Kamloops Blazers. Through 26 games, Madaisky has 17 points and leads all Blazers defenceman in goal-scoring with four.



Who’s in Goal:

The Kamloops Blazers have zero worries in goal thanks to the two-headed monster that is Cam Lanigan and Cole Cheveldave. Cheveldave is 11-3-1-0 while Lanigan is 6-3-0-0. Regardless of who gets the call in goal, Guy Charron’s team has an equal chance to win.



X-Factor:

Kamloops captain Chase Schaber continues to provide the Kamloops Blazers with consistent and timely offense. Schaber has 25 points through 26 games and leads the Kamloops Blazers with six power play goals on the year. Keeping Schaber and the rest of his linemates in check will be of the utmost importance for the Prince George Cougars.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars wrapped up the month of November 4-6-0-1 and head into this weekend trailing the Seattle Thunderbirds by five points in the Western Conference standings. The Cats have won two straight games, and are currently 2-1 on their five-game road-swing.



Who’s Up Front:

Nobody on the Cougars is hotter right now than 19-year-old forward Charles Inglis. Inglis has a six-game point streak going and has scored goals in four consecutive games. Inglis has managed 16 points through 15 games this season and has helped spark the Cougars offense.



Who’s on D:

Cougars captain Jesse Forsberg is coming off perhaps his best game of the season for Prince George. Forsberg had an assist, and logged a ton of key minutes against the Spokane Chiefs during the Cougars 5-4 victory on Saturday. Forsberg is starting to play with some more offensive confidence, and is always a menacing physical threat whenever he’s out there.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley has won his last two starts and was very good in both games. Owsley made a ton of timely saves this past weekend, and will no doubt be called upon to do the same this weekend against Kamloops and (possibly) Kelowna on Saturday. Owsley has proven this season that he can steal victories for his team and he may need to on Friday. Owsley has a 1-2 record this season against Kamloops.



X-Factor:

16-year-old forward Alex Forsberg continues to lead the charge offensively for the Cougars. Heading into this weekend Forsberg is tied for the team lead in points with 17, and leads all Cougars scorers with 10 power play points. Forsberg has managed two points through four games this season against Kamloops. Forsberg and his linemates Troy Bourke and Spencer Asuchak are always a threat to score, and a big weekend from them will go along way to help the Cougars in Kamloops on Friday.

Dropping the Gloves - Dan Gibb

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