Tuesday, January 31, 2012

500 Wins for the Prince George Cougars.

Tuesday night in Victoria the Prince George Cougars earned their 500th career victory in the city where their franchise originated. Troy Bourke had three assists, and four different goal scorers helped pace the Prince George Cougars to a 4-2 victory over the Victoria Royals.

The Cougars opened the scoring at 14:36 of the first period when defenceman Reid Jackson scored his second of the season on a point shot from the right side. Royal’s goaltender Keith Hamilton appeared to be screened on the play.

Three minutes later the Royals countered with the equalizer. Jamie Crooks’ initial shot was stopped by Drew Owsley, but Crooks followed up on his shot and batted his own rebound out of the air and into the net to make it 1-1.

The Cougars and Royals were tied at one after one with the Cougars outshooting Victoria 12-11.

Victoria quickly took a 2-1 lead early in the second period when Brandon Magee finished off a give-and-go with Mike Forsyth for his 16th goal of the season.

Greg Fraser evened the score at two at 7:24 of the period when he finished off a nice pass from Chase Witala. Witala did a lot of the dirty work behind the Victoria goal to free the puck, and Fraser made no mistake with the pass for his 13th of the season. Fraser has now scored in back-to-back games.

Daulton Siwak gave the visitors the lead at 15:16 when he beat Keith Hamilton from inside the left circle for his ninth of the season. Siwak has also now scored in back-to-back games. Troy Bourke was credited with his second assist of the game on this goal.

Mid-way through the third period the Prince George Cougars increased their lead when Ricard Blidstrand knocked in his own rebound after receiving the initial pass from Troy Bourke behind the goal. Blidstrand’s first as a Cougar provided more than enough insurance for the Cougars who outshot the Royals 12-10 in the third, and 34-32 overall.

Both teams were only given one power play and both of them were abbreviated.

The Cougars improved their record to 16-31-0-2 on the year, and have now inched within three points of Victoria for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Cougars are now 1-1-0-1 through three meetings this season with Victoria.

The Cougars will look to inch a little closer to the Royals tomorrow night when these teams meet again in Victoria.
The Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals meet tonight for the first time since October 1st, 2011. The Cougars are 0-1-0-1 against Victoria so far this season having posted a 5-4 shootout loss to Victoria followed by a 6-5 defeat. If the Cougars want to get into the playoffs they will need to take advantage of their six remaining games against Victoria.



Overview:

Marc Habscheid’s Victoria Royals come into tonight’s game in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. The Royals are 16-29-2-3 through 50 games and are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10.



Who’s Up Front:

The Victoria Royals are a team that can come at you in waves offensively. Even though they dealt Kevin Sundher to Brandon at the deadline, they still boast several forwards that can bury the puck. 19-year-old forward Jamie Crooks lead the Royals offensively. Crooks has 52 points in 50 games and leads the Royals with 25 goals this season. It will be important for the Cougars to try and keep Crooks and his linemates in check.



Who’s on D:

The Victoria Royals boast one of the top offensively 20-year-old defenceman in the WHL with Hayden Rintoul. Rintoul has 35 points through 50 games and sits fifth among 20-year-old defenceman in points. Rintoul can pass and skate with the best of them.



Who’s in Goal:

The Victoria Royals have given the bulk of their starts this season to 19-year-old goaltender Keith Hamilton. Hamilton is 14-24-1-3 this season with a 4.41 goals against average and a save percentage of .876 on the year. His backup is 17-year-old Prince George product Jared Rathjen who is 0-4-1-0 this season.



X-Factor:

The Victoria Royals have surrendered the most goals out of any team in the Western Hockey League with 247, which works out to just under five goals per game against. The Royals will need to keep that total down if they want to find success this week against the Cougars.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are heading into this week having suffered five consecutive losses. The Cougars went zero-for-two this past weekend against Everett, and now with 24 games remaining, they’ll need to try and regain some of the road confidence that they had earlier in the season. The Cougars are 15-31-0-2 and are ranked 10th in the Western Conference, but trail the Royals by only five points for the final playoff spot in the West. The Cougars also have two games in hand.



Who’s Up Front:

What weekend for Cougars forward Spencer Asuchak who finished with three goals in two games against Everett. Asuchak leads the Cougars with 13 goals this season, and is hoping to continue that type of production this week in Victoria. Continued success from Spencer Asuchak up front will be a big bonus for the Cougars who have scored the fewest goals in the Western Hockey League through 48 games.



Who’s on D:

For the first time in his WHL career, Cody Carlson will get to play some games in his own backyard. Carlson (Victoria, B.C.) will no doubt he pumped up and ready to go for these games this week. Carlson comes into this week with 30 points in 48 games, which is sixth among 20-year-olds in defensive scoring.



Who’s in Goal:

It was a tough weekend for Cougars goaltender Drew Owsley. He made some tremendous saves and (like always) gave his team a chance to win some hockey games. The goals that got by him were tough ones to stop and I don’t think there is anybody watching that would criticize Owsley’s ability to compete and make timely saves. The Cougars will need some timely goaltending this week from both of their netminders depending on who gets the call. If the Cougars can hold Victoria to two or three goals in each game, I think they give themselves a great chance to win.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars are still looking for their first road victory in 2012. It’s a strange stat considering how consistent the Cougars were on the road earlier in the season. The Cougars will need to rediscover the fire that they played with earlier in the season on the road. They’ll need to play physically, disciplined and make the necessary sacrifices (eg. Blocking shots, and taking hits to make plays). It may take a greasy game loaded with blocked-shots and garbage goals to get back on track and closer to the playoffs.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Victoria. Wow.



The View from from my hotel room in Victoria.


I tweeted earlier today that I had found my new favorite travel spot in the Western Hockey League. Victoria, you have officially outdone yourself!

The Prince George Cougars hopped aboard the 7:00 AM ferry that departed beautiful, sunny (cough. My hometown) Tsawwassen and arrived in Victoria shortly after 8:30. After an intense practice the team checked into the beautiful Inn at Laurent Point in downtown Victoria.

From there, the team was left to their own devices to go and explore B.C.'s capital. For many members of the Cougars, it was the first time they had seen/visited Victoria while others haven't visited for many years.

Growing up in Tsawwassen, and having a Dad who worked Human Resources for BC Ferries, I admit that I was privy to many Victoria visits over the years. But even several past visits did not prepare me for what I encountered today on dare I say a 'perfect' winter afternoon without snow or rain.

The city was alive and vibrant on a Monday afternoon. Tourists were out taking photos, while many locals were enjoying their favorite deli or coffee shop along Government road.

The downtown core of Victoria has something for everybody! They have whale watching tours, shopping, nightlife and even a miniature museum that I am extremely tempted to visit tomorrow.

Downtown also boasts one of Canada's nicest buildings:



After a lengthy walk, a delicious sandwich at Sam's Deli, and a couple of shops later, I am convinced that Victoria has been my favorite scenic travel spot so far.

Don't get me wrong. Nothing will top the company of Saskatchewan or Vancouver. But I've gotta say: Victoria, it's been way too long.

Here's to some exciting hockey this week between the Victoria Royals and the Prince George Cougars.

Thanks for stopping by.

DO

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Silvertips Edge Cougars 4-3.

Saturday night in Prince George, the Cougars dropped a 4-3 score to the Everett Silvertips. Joshua Winquist scored twice in the second period to ultimately seal the deal. Spencer Asuchak, Greg Fraser and Daulton Siwak responded for the Cougars who had two late power plays, but were unable to tie the score.

Everett earned a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game. Austin Adam opened the scoring 1:49 in on a point-shot that found it’s way through the crowd. For a second straight game, Everett had scored on their first shot on goal.

Josh Birkolz added to the lead at 5:37 on a power play. Birkholz skated into the left circle and let a low shot go that found it’s way into the back of the net. For Birkholz it was his second of the weekend and 23rd of the season.

The Cougars made it 2-1 late in the period when Greg Fraser stole the puck from the Silvertips defense and wired a shot past Kent Simpson for his 12th of the season. The goal was scored unassisted.

Early in the second period, Everett regained their two goal cushion when Joshua Winquist put home a Ryan Harrison pass. Earlier in the sequence, Drew Owsley made a sensational save off of Harrison on a breakaway, but Harrison grabbed his own rebound, centered the puck and Winquist made no mistake.

Winquist would score another one 2:04 later off a centering pass from behind the Cougars goal.

Spencer Asuchak would respond for the Cougars late in the period on a power play. Asuchak received a pass in front of Kent Simpson, and deked around him for his 13th of the season, and his sixth of the season against the Everett Silvertips. A nice reward for Asuchak who was celebrating his 200th game of his career.

Early in the third period the Cougars moved within one when Daulton Siwak freed the puck along the wall and blasted a wrist-shot past Simpson for his eighth of the season.

Two late power plays provided the Cougars with some chances, but the Silvertips were able to block a lot of shots and hold the Cougars to three goals.

With the victory, Everett’s record improves to 12-30-1-8 and they moved one point ahead of the Cougars (15-31-0-2) in the Western Conference standings.

Both teams finished one-for-four on the man advantage. Everett outshot Prince George 28-19.

Next up: The Victoria Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday. It marks the first time that the Cougars will face Victoria since October 1st, 2011 and the first time the Cougars have played a game in Victoria since the franchise was moved to Prince George (from Victoria) in 1994.

Cougars - Silvertips Part Two.

The Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips will meet for the fourth and final time tonight at CN Centre. Last night Everett skated to a 5-2 victory, and are now one point behind Prince George in the Western Conference standings. The Cougars are hoping to snap a four-game losing skid and hope to even up their season series with Everett in the process.



Overview:

Mark Ferner’s Everett Silvertips come into tonight’s game with a record of 11-30-1-8 through 50 games this season. The Silvertips are 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games and are one point back of Prince George for ninth in the Western Conference.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way offensively for Everett is 20-year-old forward Josh Birkolz. Birkholz has scored 22 goals and has 42 points to lead all Silvertips in scoring. Birkolz had the game winner last night for the Silvertips after he zig-zagged his way through the defense and roofed one for the third Everett goal of the night.



Who’s on D:

Import defenceman Dominik Bittner was the hero for Everett in last night’s game scoring twice (the first two goals). The two goals from Bittner were his first two ever in the Western Hockey League. Bittner also played well in his own zone, and made few (if any) mistakes against the Cougars. The Cougars will hope to silence Bittner and the rest of the Silvertips d-core tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

The Everett Silvertips got a strong outing from 19-year-old Kent Simpson. Simpson faced 36 shots and made 34 saves for the victory. Simpson was tested often in the third period and stood tall for his team when the score was 4-2. The Chicago Blackhawks draft pick is now 1-1-0-0 this season in two starts against Prince George.



X-Factor:

It was the first time that the Prince George Cougars have faced Everett with a healthy Ryan Murray, and the future first-rounder did not disappoint last night. He moved the puck extremely well and was a calming influence on the back-end for his team. The Cougars did a good job keeping Murray in check offensively, and they’ll need to do so again tonight to be successful.





Overview:

Dean Clark’s team did not get much help last night from either Kamloops or Kelowna, so tonight they’ll need to help themselves. The Cougars have lost four games in a row, and are only 2-8-0-0 in their last 10 games. The young Cougars are battling a ton of injuries at the moment, and it’s important for them to not get too down about their current situation. The Cougars are a minor winning streak away from getting right back into the thick of things in the Western Conference playoff picture.



Who’s Up Front:

20-year-old forward Spencer Asuchak was terrific for the Cougars in last night’s game. Asuchak scored both Cougars goals, and now has five goals this season against Everett. Asuchak now leads the Cougars outright with 12 goals on the season. Tonight will be a big night for Asuchak as it is his 200th career game in the WHL. Another strong night from Asuchak and his linemates will go a long way for the Cougars.



Who’ on D:

Defensively the Cougars will need to greatly rely on their veterans in tonight’s game. With Dan Gibb’s status up in the air for the foreseeable future, even more ice-time will likely be given to Cody Carlson, Jesse Forsberg and Ricard Blidstrand. The Cougars will need the likes of Michael Mylchreest, Linden Springer and Marc McNulty to play big minutes as well. The Cougars will need all of their defenceman one-through-six to be responsible and disciplined tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley stopped 32 of 36 shots in last night’s game and was strong when called upon, but tonight maybe more than ever, the Cougars are going to need their goaltender (be it Owsley or Devon Fordyce) to help steal a victory.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars played a strong first 10 minutes, and an excellent final 20 in last night’s game. But the big X-Factor tonight is to put it all together for a full 60 minutes. The Cougars could greatly help their playoff cause and their confidence cause with a victory tonight against Everett before an important road-swing to Victoria on Tuesday and Wednesday. Consistency is the ultimate key for tonight’s game.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Silvertips 5 - Cougars 2

Friday night in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars dropped a 5-2 score to the Everett Silvertips. Dominik Bittner scored twice for Everett in the first period, and the visitors scored four times in the first 40 minutes to earn their 11th win of the season. Spencer Asuchak had both goals in response for Prince George.

The Cougars opened the scoring early in the first period while short-handed. Spencer Asuchak out-skated the Silvertips defender, and managed to stuff the puck past Kent Simpson while he was hauled down to put the Cougars on the board. It was Asuchak’s 11th of the season and fourth of the year against Everett.

The Silvertips evened the score a few moments later when Dominik Bittner let a point-shot go that deflected off the Cougars defence and in past Drew Owsley. For Bittner it was his first goal in the Western Hockey League.

Late in the period, Bittner struck again off a Cougars turnover. Bittner walked into the slot and flipped once into the net for his second of the period.

The Cougars lost the services of defenceman Dan Gibb who was injured in the late stages of the first period. Gibb left with about three minutes remaining in the period and did not return.

The second period belonged to Everett. The Silvertips outshot Prince George 15-10, and were rewarded offensively when Josh Birkholz weaved his way into the front of the goal and beat Drew Owsley up high for his 21st of the season.

Late in the period the Silvertips added to their lead when Ryan Chynoweth put home his first ever goal in the WHL. Chynoweth had the final whack at a puck that was bouncing around in the goal-mouth area.

The Cougars really turned it on in the third though, and moved within two goals when Spencer Asuchak scored off a face-off in Everett territory. For Asuchak it was his 12th of the season, which gives him the team lead in goals outright.

The Cougars then continued to press, but Everett netminder Kent Simpson kept the door shut the rest of the way.

Kohl Bauml added an empty-netter for Everett who secured their 11th win of the season, and are now one point back of the Cougars in the Western Conference standings. That said: The Silvertips have played in three more games.

Prince George and Everett both finished the game zero-for-three on the power play. Everett outshot Prince George 37-36.

The Cougars (15-30-0-2) will head into Saturday’s rematch with Everett (11-30-1-8) trailing Victoria by five points in the Western Conference standings. Victoria secured a 4-2 victory against Kamloops while Seattle defeated Kelowna in a shootout to move six ahead of the Cougars in the playoff race.

The Cougars and Silvertips meet for the final time on Saturday night from CN Centre.

Cougars - Silvertips Preview.

Friday night in Prince George, the Cougars will host the Everett Silvertips for the first and only weekend this season. So far the Cougars are 1-1-0-0 against Everett having posted a 4-1 victory against them on November 11th, 2011. The Cougars lost the next night 3-2. These teams have only three points separating themselves in the standings, and make no mistake about it: This weekend has major playoff implications.





Overview:

Mark Ferner’s Everett Silvertips are coming into this weekend with a record of 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games. The ‘Tips have lost two straight and are currently ranked 10th in the WHL’s Western Conference. Their record sits at 10-30-1-8 this season.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way offensively for Everett is 20-year-old forward Josh Birkolz. Birkholz has scored 21 goals and has 41 points to lead all Silvertips in scoring.



Who’s on D:

When the Cougars and Silvertips last played each other in mid-November, the Silvertips did not have Ryan Murray in their lineup. The 17-year-old missed a solid chunk of time earlier this season with injury, and is almost assuredly going to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. So far this season Murray has tallied 19 points in 23 games with Everett.



Who’s in Goal:

The Everett Silvertips are led in goal by 19-year-old Kent Simpson. Simpson is 8-24-1-5 on the year and has a save percentage of .900 this season through 40 games. Simpson’s backup netminder is 16-year-old Austin Lotz. Lotz is 2-6-0-2 this season and earned his first ever WHL victory against Prince George back on November 12, 2011.



X-Factor:

Though the Silvertips have struggled record-wise this season their power play comes into this weekend ranked 10th in the Western Hockey League. They can thank 17-year-old forward Kohl Bauml for some of that success. Bauml has scored seven power play goals this season and is enjoying a fine rookie campaign in the Western Hockey League. The Cougars will need to stay disciplined and not let the Silvertips power play beat them. Silencing Bauml will be a big step in the right direction.





Overview:

Dean Clark’s team comes into this weekend ranked ninth in the Western Conference and they sit three points back of the Victoria Royals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Cougars have lost three straight and are 2-8-0-0 in their last 10 games. The Cougars are 3-2-0-0 in their last five games at home.



Who’s Up Front:

Heading into the weekend the Prince George Cougars are a little bit banged up. That being said they still have many capable forwards that can put up some numbers offensively. 20-year-old forward Spencer Asuchak has scored three goals against Everett already this season, and no doubt would like to continue that type of production this weekend.



Who’ on D:

Defensively the Cougars will have to be ready to go against a plucky Everett team that is not going to make anything easy on them. Cody Carlson scored the team’s lone goal last Saturday against Red Deer and leads the Cougars with 30 points from the back-end. Carlson is second in team scoring behind only Troy Bourke.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley got the night off Saturday in Red Deer and should be ready to go for one or both games this weekend. Owsley gives the Cougars a chance to win each time he takes the ice, and you know that he’ll be ready to give it his all this weekend against the Silvertips.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars did not lead for a single second of their three-game Alberta road-swing last week. The Cougars will no doubt feel a lot better about themselves and their chances if they can give themselves an early lead against Everett. When the Cougars lead after two periods of play they are 10-1-0-0 this season.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spencer Asuchak Audio.

Spencer Asuchak Interview by thevoicedo

Asuchak Approaches 200th Game.




This weekend the ninth placed Prince George Cougars host the 10th placed Everett Silvertips on both Friday and Saturday at CN Centre. For Cougars 20-year-old forward Spencer Asuchak, this weekend could be especially memorable.

The 20-year-old product of Kamloops, B.C. is set to play in his 200th career game in the Western Hockey League on Saturday night. Through 198 career games, Spencer Asuchak has recorded 41 goals and 41 assists for 82 points along with 188 penalty minutes.

“It’s exciting. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be in this league for that long,” said Asuchak. “Four years went by fast. It feels good.”

Asuchak says that versatility has been a big key to his success. “I’d like to think of myself as an all-around player. It’s something I pride myself on,” said Asuchak.

Asuchak is hoping for a big weekend to help celebrate the big milestone. So far this season Asuchak has scored three of his 10 goals against Everett.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vote Dan Gibb for Breakfast Idol.



Tuesday morning Cougars defenceman Dan Gibb was a guest on 101.3 The River's morning show with Mike and Ashley. Gibb joined the show as a contestant for the River's 'Breakfast Idol' promotion.

It turns out that Dan Gibb and host Mike were wearing the same sweater!

Gibb started the morning by defeating co-host Ashley in a game of Birthday Trivia.

He then participated in a stirring round of 20 questions and solved a rubix cube during the talent portion of the event.

All Cougars fans should help Dan Gibb become Prince George's 'Breakfast Idol.'

You can vote for Dan Here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rebels 5 - Cougars 1

The Prince George Cougars wrapped up their Alberta road-swing with a 5-1 loss to the Red Deer Rebels. Turner Elson had two goals and two assists for Red Deer while Cody Carlson had the lone tally for Prince George.

For a third straight game, the Cougars had a strong first period but were not properly rewarded. They outshot the Rebels 12-8 but it was Red Deer who clicked first while short-handed.

Matthew Dumba stole the puck at the blueline and raced in two-on-zero with Turner Elson. Elson and Dumba connected on the give-and-go and Dumba buried the puck past Devon Fordyce to give Red Deer the 1-0 lead.

Late in the second period, Red Deer added to their lead on a power play. Matt Dumba raced the puck up ice and then fed Elson in the slot area. Elson flipped a puck past Devon Fordyce to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. The goal came after an iffy charging call assessed to Cougars defenceman Dan Gibb.

Early in the third, Red Deer struck again on the power play. This time it was Adam Kambeitz who received a pass in front of Devon Fordyce, and lifted a backhand under the blocker for a 3-0 Red Deer cushion.

Cody Carlson moved the Cougars within two when a long shot from the right point found it’s way through Deven Dubyk. For Carlson it was his seventh of the season and his 30th point altogether in 2011-2012.

The Rebels would add two more at the mid-way point of the hockey game (Chad Robinson and Turner Elson) and the Rebels held on for their 20th victory of the season.

Dean Clark's team was without the services of Greg Fraser and John Odgers due to injury, and also did not have Campbell Elynuik because of suspension. They became even more short-handed when both Alex Forsberg and Reid Jackson left the game with injuries.

The Cougars finished the game zero-for-four on the power play while Red Deer went two-for-two. The final shots on goal had Red Deer with 35 and Prince George with 33.

The Cougars now return home still just three points behind Victoria for the final playoff spot in the West. Next up: The Everett Silvertips on Friday and Saturday from CN Centre.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cougars - Rebels Preview.

Tonight in Red Deer the Prince George Cougars wrap up their three-game road swing against The Red Deer Rebels. This marks the first of two meetings between these clubs this season. The Cougars and Rebels will meet again in Prince George on February 15th.




Overview:

Heading into tonight’s game, the Red Deer Rebels are on the outside looking into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They Rebels are 19-20-1-4 and are six points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Rebels have lost two straight and are 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games.



Who’s Up Front:

19-year-old Swede john Persson leads the way offensively for the Rebels with 15 goals and 39 points this season. Persson is 6’2, and weighs 211 pounds and will be a tough body to move for the Cougars defense.



Who’s on D:

Leading the way this season on the back-end is 19-year-old defenceman Alex Petrovic. Petrovic comes into tonight’s game with 30 points in 40 games. He’s a +2 with 73 penalty minutes and is an excellent puck-moving defenceman for Red Deer. It also helps that he’s 6-4, 205.



Who’s in Goal:

Since joining the Red Deer Rebels, 20-year-old goaltender Deven Dubyk is 5-5-1-1 with a 3.03 Goals Against and a save percentage of just over .90. Dubyk is backed up by 17-year-old netminder Bolton Pouliot. Pouliot is 0-4-0-2 and is still looking for his first victory in the WHL.



X-Factor:

Since joining the Red Deer Rebels on December 29th, Charles Inglis has recorded one goal and three assists in his first eight games. Cougars fans are well aware of Inglis’ skill-set, and you know that he’ll want to bring his best against his former team.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are 0-2 so far on their currently three-game road trip and will wrap up their road trip tonight against Red Deer. The Cougars are winless in their last five road games. They head into tonight’s game trailing both Victoria and Seattle by three points in the Western Conference.



Who’s Up Front:

Though the 2011-2012 season has been filled with ups and downs for this young Cougars squad, one can’t ignore the fact that with each passing game, the younger kids are getting more experienced and are getting better. Take Jordan Tkatch for example. The 16-year-old scored his 11th of the season last night against Calgary and is now in a three-way tie for the team lead in goals.



Who’s on D:

If the Cougars want to snap their road skid tonight, they are going to need all hands on deck defensively. Cody Carlson and Dan Gibb have proven this season that they can be as good as any other defense tandem in the Western Hockey League. Jesse Forsberg and Reid Jackson have obvious chemistry together, and Ricard Blidstrand has fit in seamlessly with the Cougars since arriving from Regina. Add the fact that Michael Mylchreest continues to gain valuable experience at this level. All six Cougars defensemen will need to be ready to battle hard tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Don’t let the five goals fool you. Drew Owsley was solid last night and continues to battle hard for his teammates. That being said, it appears as though Devon Fordyce may be getting the nod tonight in Red Deer. Fordyce is 1-4-0-1 this season, and if he does indeed get the start, it will be his first start against a team in the Central Division this year.



X-Factor:

Tonight’s game also marks the return of Daulton Siwak to Red Deer. The Cougars acquired Siwak in a trade on December 29th that sent Charles Inglis to Red Deer. Siwak has scored twice for the Cougars since his arrival, and appears to have fit right in alongside Alex Forsberg and Troy Bourke. You know that Siwak will want to put up some points against the Rebels, and you know that his linemates will want to get in on the action as well.

Calgary 5 - Prince George 1

Friday night in Calgary the Prince George Cougars dropped a 5-1 score to the Calgary Hitmen. Victor Rask led the way with two goals for Calgary while Jordan Tkatch had the lone tally for Prince George.

Joe Kornelson opened the scoring for Calgary at 13:22 of the first period. Drew Owsley stopped Spencer Humphries’ initial shot and then stopped the rebound attenpt by Calder Brooks. However the second rebound went right to the stick of Kornelson who buried his seventh of the year past a sprawling Drew Owsley.

63 seconds later Victor Rask made it 2-0 when he took the puck from the side of the net and walked out in front and banged home his own rebound. The shots on goal after one period were 15-5 for Calgary.

Early in the second period the Prince George Cougars got back within one. Jarrett Fontaine made a great play at his own blueline to steal the puck from the defender, and he fed Jordan Tkatch on a two-on-one. Tkatch did the rest firing a shot on Chris Driedger and then converted on his own rebound for his 11th goal of the season.

That goal vaults Jordan Tkatch into a three-way tie with Alex Forsberg and Greg Fraser for the team lead in goals.

The Hitmen took momentum back on the power play. Moments after Drew Owsley made a tremendous back-door stop off of Jimmy Bubnick, the Hitmen were able to convert when Alex Gogolev received a pass in front of the net and simply out-waited Drew Owsley for his 19th of the season.

Victor Rask would add another power play marker towards the end of the second to give Calgary a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Calder Brooks wrapped up the game’s scoring in the third period which turned nasty after Calgary defenceman Alex Roach was kicked out of the game for a checking-to-the-head penalty on Greg Fraser.

Cody Carlson, Jesse Forsberg and Campbell Elynuik were both kicked out of the game in the third period for fighting.

The Cougars finished the game zero-for-seven on the power play while Calgary went two-for-seven on their opportunities.

The final shots on goal were 44-19 for Calgary.

The Cougars will wrap up their three-game Alberta road-trip tomorrow night in Red Deer. Saturday’s battle with the Rebels marks the first meeting of the season between the clubs, and the first time that Daulton Siwak gets to face off against his former team.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cougars - Hitmen Preview.



The Prince George Cougars and Calgary Hitmen meet for the second and final time this season tonight at the Saddledome in Calgary. Tonight’s game marks the second game of a three-game Alberta road-swing for the Cougars.

Overview:

The last time these teams met was December 28th in Prince George. The Cougars defeated Calgary 3-1. Since that game, the Hitmen went on to win eight consecutive games before falling Wednesday to Medicine Hat. The Hitmen are rolling, and enter tonight’s game with a record of 25-17-1-2 and currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way offensively for Calgary is 19-year-old forward Cody Sylvester. Sylvester has 51 points through 42 games. Sylvester has 17 goals this season, and had the lone tally for Calgary against Prince George on December 28th.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Calgary Hitmen have received great contributions from 20-year-old Collin Bowman. Bowman has 28 points through 41 games and is a +8 for Mike Williamson’s hockey club.



Who’s in Goal:

The Calgary Hitmen boast two very capable goaltenders in Chris Driedger and Brandon Glover. Glover played against the Cougars on December 28th and took the loss. Driedger is 11-7-2-1 while Glover is 14-9.



X-Factor:

20-year-old forward Jimmy Bubnick leads all Calgary players with 20 goals on the season. Bubnick has scored seven of his 20 on the power play, and has been a consistent threat all season having posted 43 points in 45 games. He’s the only member of the Hitmen to dress in all 45 games so far this season. The Cougars will need to keep Bubnick in check if they want to secure two points.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars come into tonight’s game having won three of their last 10 games. The Cougars are 15-27-0-2 and are still (barely) on the outside looking into the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The Cougars did earn a 3-1 victory against Calgary back on December 28th at home.



Who’s Up Front:

Troy Bourke, Alex Forsberg and Daulton Siwak were silenced in last night’s game with Edmonton and are too talented a group to be silenced for long. Both Siwak and Forsberg weren’t there on December 28th when the Cougars beat Calgary. Forsberg was at U-17’s while Daulton Siwak was still a member of the Red Deer Rebels. Troy Bourke opened the scoring against Calgary on December 28th, but hasn’t scored since.



Who’s on D:

Cougars captain Jesse Forsberg now leads the Cougars in plus-minus with a +3 rating on the season. The elder Forsberg is playing some of his best hockey right now, and I’d expect nothing different from Forsberg tonight in Calgary.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley stopped 50 pucks against Edmonton on Wednesday, and continues to be very busy between the pipes. With two games in two nights coming up for the Cougars, it would seem likely that both Drew Owsley and Devon Fordyce will get a start, but nothing is etched in stone. If whoever starts in goal tomorrow night plays extremely well, then they could start again on Saturday.



X-Factor:

Shots. Shots. Shots. After being silenced Wednesday in Edmonton, the onus will be on ALL of the Cougars forwards to bring their best effort. The Cougars have been outshot in 12 consecutive games, and they will need to put more pucks on goal. Keep in mind that the Cougars are coming off a weekend where they scored 10 goals in two games, so you know that the capability is there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Alberta Road Trip - Day 3

The good thing about hockey is that quite often after a tough loss there is a fast turn-around.

The Prince George Cougars were back at practice today in Red Deer and started their preparation for the Calgary Hitmen tomorrow night. Last night’s 5-0 loss is Edmonton is already behind then, and the Cougars are set to move forward.

The Cougars will be facing a red hot Calgary Hitmen squad that has lost only once since these teams last faced off against each other. The Cougars were 3-1 winners against Calgary back on December 28th at CN Centre. It was that night that both John Odgers and Austin Daae recorded their first goals in the Western Hockey League.

Tomorrow night’s game in Calgary will be particularly special for Cougars backup goaltender Devon Fordyce. Fordyce grew up in Cochrane, AB which is not too far from Calgary.

“I’ve been to a few games. A few Hitmen games and a few Flames games. It will be different having people come and watch us,” said Fordyce this afternoon after practice.

The next victory for the Cougars will be the 500th for the franchise since they moved to Prince George in 1994, and the 10 Alberta products on the Prince George Cougars are hoping that they can celebrate that milestone this weekend.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cougars Kick Off Road Trip With Loss in Edmonton.

Wednesday night in Edmonton, the Prince George Cougars fell 5-0 to the Edmonton Oil Kings. Michael St. Croix scored a natural hat trick and Laurent Brossroit stopped all 26 shots he faced in goal.

The Cougars played a strong first 20 minutes but were not properly rewarded for their efforts. They outshot the Edmonton Oil Kings 16-8, and out-chanced them to a large degree. Greg Fraser was given a penalty shot at 10:28 of the first, but was unable to bury a backhand past Brossoit.

Shortly after Fraser’s penalty shot, Edmonton made it 1-0 when Tyler Maxwell fired a hard shot from the right-wing that snuck underneath the bar. Michael St. Croix added to their lead off a cross-ice pass from the left-wing corner.

Early in the second period the Cougars had a few other opportunities, but Chase Witala fired wide, and Alex Forsberg hit a post and the game remained 2-0.

Michael St. Croix made it 3-0 when he banged home a Jordan Peddle rebound. St. Croix completed his hat trick on a power play at 11:59 when he grabed a Martin Gernat rebound off the back boards and flipped one past Drew Owsley.

The Oil Kings outshot the Cougars 24-2 in the second period.

Cody Corbett scored the game’s last goal on a power play at 8:40 of the third period.

The Cougars finished the game zero-for-six on the power play while Edmonton went two-for-three. The final shots on goal were 55-26 in favor of Edmonton.

The Cougars record now sits at 15-27-0-2 and are still just one point back of eighth place in the Western Conference with two games in hand on the Victoria Royals.

The Cougars are now off to Red Deer where they’ll set up shop for the next few days. The Cougars play Calgary on Friday night before they wrap up their road-trip Saturday in Red Deer against the Rebels.

Cougars - Oil Kings Preview.

Tonight in Edmonton the Prince George Cougars kick off their three-game Alberta road-trip against the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Edmonton Oil Kings.




Overview:

The Edmonton Oil Kings are 6-2-0-2 in their last 10 games and they lead the Moose Jaw Warriors by six points for the Eastern Conference lead. Only the Portland Winterhawks (189) have scored more goals than the Edmonton Oil Kings (188).



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way offensively for Edmonton is 18-year-old New York Rangers prospect Michael St. Croix. St. Croix has registered 67 points through 45 games this season and leads the Oil Kings with 25 goals – 10 of which have been scored on the power play.



Who’s on D:

The Edmonton Oil Kings boast a ton of depth on the back-end. This season they are led by Edmonton Oilers draft-pick Martin Gernat. Through 33 ganes, Gernat has recorded 26 points and is a +22 on the season. Add the likes of Griffin Reinhart, Keegan Lowe, Mark Pysyk and Cody Corbett, and you’ve got a blueline that has incredible depth.



Who’s in Goal:

The Oil Kings have received great goaltending this season from 18-year-old Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit is 25-9-1-3 on the year with one shut out. His goals against average is 2.47 and his save percentage is .913. His backup is 16-year-old Tristan Jarry who is 4-2 on the season. Jarry played in the last game for Edmonton during the weekend against Calgary.



X-Factor:

The Edmonton Oil Kings have the league’s second best power play (27.1 percent) and also the league’s second best penalty-kill (83.3 percent). Keeping Edmonton five-on-five or down a man will be very important for the Cougars tonight.





Overview:

Dean Clark’s Cougars have won two in a row, and head into tonight’s game with a record of 15-26-0-1. The Cats outscored Lethbridge 10-5 this past weekend and are once again knocking on the door of the top eight of the Western Conference. They trail Victoria by one point, and hold two games in hand. The next victory for Prince George will mark number 500 for the franchise.



Who’s Up Front:

No Cougars forward is hotter than Troy Bourke. The 17-year-old from Onoway, Alberta had five assists in two games against Lethbridge, and will no doubt be ready to provide a similar impact this week in his home province. Troy Bourke has become the straw that stirs the drink offensively for the Cougars, and they’ll need him to lead the charge tonight in Edmonton.



Who’s on D:

Cougars captain Jesse Forsberg is playing some of his best hockey of the season. Forsberg has scored goals in two straight games, and has been giving the opposition fits on the power play. Forsberg has used his size to create problems in front of the opposition’s goal, and I’d look for Forsberg to do more of the same tonight, while playing a responsible, efficient game defensively.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley won both games for the Cougars this past weekend against Lethbridge, and continues to provide the Cougars with a chance to win every night. Coming into tonight’s game, Drew Owsley has a record of 14-22-0-1. Devon Fordyce is his backup and holds a record of 1-4-0-1. Whoever gets the call tonight can expect a lot of shots and activity.



X-Factor:

The key tonight for the Prince George Cougars is to keep their offensive momentum going. They’ve scored 10 goals in their last two games, and had all lines clicking last weekend. Lots of shots, lots of net-traffic and a strong work ethic will all be necessary tonight if the Cougars want to win in Edmonton. I’m willing to bet that they are up for the challenge tonight.

Cougars Sign Ty Edmonds.





The Prince George Cougars are pleased to announce that they have signed goaltender Ty Edmonds (Winnipeg, MB) to a standard Western Hockey League contract.

The Cougars drafted Edmonds in the ninth round of the 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

“I’m looking forward to coming to camp and trying to make the team next season,” said Edmonds. “It would be a dream come true to play for the Prince George Cougars.”

So far this season Edmonds has performed very well in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. Edmonds has a record of 15-1-0-0 with two shutouts. His goals-against-average is currently 1.87 and his save percentage sits at .908.

Edmonds represented Manitoba at the U-16 Challenge Cup in Moose Jaw back in October, and helped Manitoba earn a silver medal at the tournament.

“We think Ty has a great attitude and a great work ethic,” said Prince George Cougars Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel Wade Klippenstein. “We feel that he can be the type of player that we’ll need in order to be a championship team.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alberta Road Trip - Day 1

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The Prince George Cougars have arrived safely in Alberta and are set to begin their three-game road-trip on Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oil Kings. But this isn’t just an ordinary road-trip to Seattle or Spokane.

This road trip holds special significance for 10 of the 24 players on the Prince George Cougars roster. Nearly half of the team was born in Alberta.

“It’s really exciting. I’ve been looking forward to it all year,” said Cougars rookie forward Jake Mykitiuk who is from St. Albert, which is not far from the Alberta capital. “We only get to come here once this season, so I hope we can make the most of it.”

Over the course of a 72-game hockey season homesickness is inevitable, and when a player like Troy Bourke (Onoway, AB) gets a chance to visit with his family – He doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“It’s huge. Even better now that we’re winning,” said Bourke who has recorded five assists in his last two games. “It brings a spark back in your game. Over the next few days getting a chance to see everybody will make it that much better.”

Add Rexall Place to the long list of intimidating buildings that the Cougars rookies will be playing on for the first time ever. The advantage here though is that the Cougars have already won in some difficult rinks this season, and this time the Cougars may have more of a home-ice advantage than the opponent realizes.

The Cougars are coming into Wednesday’s game having won both games from the weekend against Lethbridge. When the puck drops Wednesday night they’ll hold two games in hand on the Victoria Royals, and are well within striking distance of that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Earlier this season, Jordan Tkatch (Prud’Homme, SK) scored goals in four straight games during the Cougars Saskatchewan road-swing. Will one of the 10 Alberta-born players be able to accomplish something similar? Time will tell.

But for now the Prince George Cougars are going to do their best to enjoy a small piece of home’ in the middle of January, and hope that a few home-cooked meals and a louder cheering section can help push them to victory against three difficult Alberta opponents.

The Cougars Have Arrived in Alberta!



Did you know that 10 of the 24 players on the Prince George Cougars roster were born in Alberta?

Here are the Cougars skating this morning at Rexall Place - Home of the Edmonton Oilers.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cougars Sweep the Hurricanes.

Saturday night in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars earned their second victory in a row and their first home weekend sweep of the season. They defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-2 on the strength of 39 saves from Drew Owsley and some timely offense from the likes of Jordan Tkatch and Jesse Forsberg.

It was 1-0 Cougars after one. After a back-and-forth period the Cougars buried at 17:23 when Daulton Siwak converted on a Troy Bourke feed for his seventh of the season and second in as many nights.

The second period was scoreless but the third period was wide open.

Lethbridge opened the third period scoring when Brady Ramsey scored his 16th of the season and all of a sudden Lethbridge had some life.

That quickly changed when Jordan Tkatch forced a turnover at the Lethbridge blueline and raced down the left wing and buried a wrister past Damien Ketlo for his 10th of the season.

The Cougars then increased their lead when Jesse Forsberg tipped home an Alex Forsberg shot for a power play goal, and ultimately the game-winner.

Jake Mykitiuk added some insurance for the Cougars at 12:13 of the period and the rest was history.

Lethbridge did score a power play marker in the final minute (Jay Merkley) but it was too little, too late. Drew Owsley made 39 saves on 41 shots faced to earn his 14th victory of the season.

The Cougars finished the game one-for-five on the power play while Lethbridge countered with a one-for-two result. The Cougars were outshot 41-27.

With the victory, the Cougars now sit one point back of both the Victoria Royals and the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL’s Western Conference.

The Cougars are back in action Wednesday night, in Edmonton. Wednesday’s game marks the first of a three-game Alberta road-swing for the Cougars.

Cats and 'Canes Part Two.

Tonight, the Prince George Cougars look for their first weekend sweep at CN Centre in 2012 as they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a second consecutive evening. Last night the Cougars doubled up the ‘Canes 6-3 and earned their fifth home-ice victory of the season.




Overview:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes come into this weekend sitting last in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Through 45 games, Lethbridge has won 16 games and holds a record of 16-28-0-1. The Hurricanes are 4-6-0-0 in their last 10 games and are 13 points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.



Who’s Up Front:

19-year-old forward Brody Sutter was the best Hurricane on the ice for the large majority of last night’s contest. Sutter scored a power play goal and used his size and skill to make life very difficult for the opposing team. Sutter has 18 goals this season and leads the Hurricanes with 37 points in 41 games.



Who’s on D:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes got some quality minutes last night from 92-born defenceman Daniel Johnston. Johnston has 16 points through 29 games this season. He skates well, moves the puck swiftly and saw a lot of ice-time against the top forwards of the Cougars.



Who’s in Goal:



It wasn’t an easy night for 20-year-old goaltender Damien Ketlo. Ketlo was pulled after allowing five goals on 25 shots faced in last night’s game. Granted Ketlo didn’t have much of a chance on most of the goals, but Liam Liston came in and was solid the rest of the way stopping 14 of the 15 pucks he faced.



X-Factor:

If the Hurricanes want to split this weekend’s set in Prince George they’ll need to be better disciplined in tonight’s game. The Hurricanes surrendered 10 power plays against while the Cougars only surrendered five.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars come into tonight’s game trailing the Victoria Royals by one point in the WHL’s Western Conference. The Cougars are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games and are 14-26-0-2 on the year.



Who’s Up Front:

It was a breakout game offensively for the trio of Daulton Siwak, Alex Forsberg and Troy Bourke. Those three combined for six points last night, and really looked like they were starting to gel together. If these three can continue to produce like they did last night, the Cougars will give themselves a great chance to win their second straight on home ice.



Who’s on D:

Cody Carlson showed last night what he was all about. Not only was he responsible defensively, but Carlson contributed a goal and two assists. He heads into tonight’s game ranked 14th in the WHL for scoring amongst defencemen with 29 points in 42 games.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley was once again brilliant for the Prince George Cougars as he made 49 saves on the 52 shots he faced. Owsley gives the Cougars a chance to win on a nightly basis, and there is a real belief that if the Cougars get into the playoffs, Owsley has the ability to steal games. Whether Owsley goes tonight has not yet been officially decided, but either Owsley or Devon Fordyce can expect a hungry Lethbridge team to show up ready tonight.



X-Factor:

The Cougars were able to score twice on the power play and perhaps even more importantly were able to use the power play as a momentum changer in the first period. Jesse Forsberg has found a new niche for himself on the man-advantage and was able to score his first of the season on a tip-in last night. If the Cougars can keep this positive momentum going on the power play, it bodes very well for them as they get set for an Alberta road-trip next week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Carlson Leads the Cats By the 'Canes.

Friday night in Prince George, the Cougars got three point nights from both Cody Carlson and Troy Bourke, and Drew Owsley made 49 saves to give the Prince George Cougars a 6-3 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The game did not start well for the Cougars who at one point were outshot 7-0 by the visitors. Lethbridge opened the scoring when Craig Leverton converted off a Cougars turnover in the slot to give his team the 1-0 advantage.

At the halfway point of the period the Cougars were being outshot 14-3 and were being badly outplayed by the Hurricanes. Everything changed when the Cougars were given a series of power plays. They failed to score on a five-on-three, but with one second left on the man advantage Jesse Forsberg tipped home a Cody Carlson point-shot for his first goal of the season.

65 seconds later the Cougars followed it up with another as Jordan Tkatch knocked home a Reid Jackson rebound for his ninth and the Cats led 2-1. Another 1:42 later and the Cougars struck again on the power play. Cody Carlson hammered home a one-timer off a pass from Troy Bourke, and the Cougars skated into the intermission up 3-1. The shots were 21-16 favoring Lethbridge after one.

The Hurricanes inched back within one at the 8:51 mark of the second period on the power play when Brody Sutter one-timed a pass home for his 18th, but 12 seconds later the Cougars bounced right back with one of their own. Daulton Siwak converted on a Troy Bourke pass for his sixth of the season and his first as a Cougar to make it 4-2.

Cody Carlson’s second of the period and Brady Ramsay’s 15th of the year for Lethbridge rounded out the scoring in the second period. The other major highlight of the second came when Nick Buonassisi was stopped on a penalty-shot by Drew Owsley. Owsley has now faced three penalty-shots this season and has stopped them all.

Greg Fraser scored the lone goal of the third period on a nice individual effort, and the Cougars were able to shut the door from there.

Lethbridge outshot the Cougars 52-40 but the Cougars won the special-teams war. The Cougars finished with two power play goals while the Hurricanes were one-for-five on the night.

The Cougars victory coupled with a Victoria loss now moves Prince George within one point of the Victoria Royals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. The Cougars record now sits at 14-26-0-2 through 42 games.

Carlson Leads the Cats By the 'Canes.

Friday night in Prince George, the Cougars got three point nights from both Cody Carlson and Troy Bourke, and Drew Owsley made 49 saves to give the Prince George Cougars a 6-3 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The game did not start well for the Cougars who at one point were outshot 7-0 by the visitors. Lethbridge opened the scoring when Craig Leverton converted off a Cougars turnover in the slot to give his team the 1-0 advantage.

At the halfway point of the period the Cougars were being outshot 14-3 and were being badly outplayed by the Hurricanes. Everything changed when the Cougars were given a series of power plays. They failed to score on a five-on-three, but with one second left on the man advantage Jesse Forsberg tipped home a Cody Carlson point-shot for his first goal of the season.

65 seconds later the Cougars followed it up with another as Jordan Tkatch knocked home a Reid Jackson rebound for his ninth and the Cats led 2-1. Another 1:42 later and the Cougars struck again on the power play. Cody Carlson hammered home a one-timer off a pass from Troy Bourke, and the Cougars skated into the intermission up 3-1. The shots were 21-16 favoring Lethbridge after one.

The Hurricanes inched back within one at the 8:51 mark of the second period on the power play when Brody Sutter one-timed a pass home for his 18th, but 12 seconds later the Cougars bounced right back with one of their own. Daulton Siwak converted on a Troy Bourke pass for his sixth of the season and his first as a Cougar to make it 4-2.

Cody Carlson’s second of the period and Brady Ramsay’s 15th of the year for Lethbridge rounded out the scoring in the second period. The other major highlight of the second came when Nick Buonassisi was stopped on a penalty-shot by Drew Owsley. Owsley has now faced three penalty-shots this season and has stopped them all.

Greg Fraser scored the lone goal of the third period on a nice individual effort, and the Cougars were able to shut the door from there.

Lethbridge outshot the Cougars 52-40 but the Cougars won the special-teams war. The Cougars finished with two power play goals while the Hurricanes were one-for-five on the night.

The Cougars victory coupled with a Victoria loss now moves Prince George within one point of the Victoria Royals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. The Cougars record now sits at 14-26-0-2 through 42 games.

Cougars - Hurricanes Preview

Tonight, on Friday the 13th the Prince George Cougars welcome the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the first of back-to-back meetings at CN Centre. Tonight’s game marks the first time these teams have seen each other this season, and it’s a very important weekend for both teams who both have playoff aspirations.



Overview:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes come into this weekend sitting in second last in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Through 44 games, Lethbridge has won 16 games and holds a record of 16-27-0-1. The Hurricanes are 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games and will no doubt be ready t o give it their all against the Cougars this weekend.


Who’s Up Front:

With the departure of Cam Braes to Moose Jaw at the trading deadline, the bulk of the offensive load now falls onto the shoulders of 20-year-old winger Brody Sutter’s shoulders. Through 40 games, Sutter has 36 points through 40 games played and he leads Lethbridge with 17 goals. Seven of his goals have come on the power play.


Who’s on D:

19-year-old blueliner Landon Oslanski leads the Hurricanes with 18 points through 43 games. He leads all Hurricanes defenceman with five goals and is second on the team in penalty minutes.


Who’s in Goal:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have two very capable netminders that could both hypothetically see some time this weekend. 20-year-old Damien Ketlo comes into tonight’s game with a 12-14 record, a 3.47 goals against average and a save percentage of .904. Alternatively the Hurricanes could go with 18-year-old netminder Liam Liston. Liston is 4-9 this season with a 4.65 goals against average and a save percentage of .874.


X-Factor:

Tonight marks the return of former Cougars forward Nick Buonassisi. Since joining the Hurricanes, Buonassisi has put up 25 points in 32 games and has become one of the major focal points of the Hurricanes offense. Buonassisi will no doubt want to bring his best against his former team tonight.




Overview:

The Prince George Cougars come into tonight’s game with a record of 13-26-0-2. They sit ninth in the Western Conference and are just three points back of Victoria for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Cougars have lost five in a row, but in those five games they only played Kamloops and Vancouver. Perhaps a fresh opponent is just what the doctor ordered for the Cougars who are due to break out offensively any day now.



Who’s Up Front:

Alex Forsberg made his return to the Cougars lineup on Tuesday in Vancouver which will no doubt prove to be a big boost for the Prince George Cougars. The 16-year-old rookie is second in team scoring with 26 points in 36 games this season. He leads the team with 11 goals and is tied for the team lead in power play points with 12.



Who’s on D:

Now that Ricard Blidstrand has had a practice or two under his belt, I’d expect to see a much more confident and comfortable defender tonight. Blidstrand showed some good poise and strength in Tuesday’s matchup with Vancouver, and he definitely is happy to be in Prince George and wants to make an impact with his new teammates.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley was effective Tuesday in Vancouver stopping 22 of the 25 shots he faced. Two of the goals that beat him were scored on the power play and he certainly provided his team with timely saves. Whether it’s Drew Owsley or Devon Fordyce in goal tonight – Either will need to be at their best and hope that tonight is the night that the offense is ready to break out and give them some run support.



X-Factor:

The big X-Factor tonight will be for the Cougars to get off to a fast start and to get the crowd going. If the Cougars can throw a few big hits early and maybe strike early. It will help put them at ease, and will allow them to be the aggressor on home ice. 18 of the final 31 games for the Cougars will be played at home, and it’ll be important for them to start the second-half of their home games on the right foot tonight against Lethbridge.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Brief Food For Thought.

A couple of things jumped out at me this morning while I was looking through the Prince George Cougars schedule:

1) Of the 31 games remaining for the Cougars, 18 will be played at home. I know that the Cougars home record has been disappointing this season, but you could certainly argue the fact that playing at home certainly gives the Cougars more comfort and puts them in a more favorable position to succeed.

2) Of the 31 games remaining for the Cougars, 17 will be played against teams with a .500 record or lower. Over half of the Cougars remaining games will come against opponents that are relatively close to them in the standings record-wise.

3) The Prince George Cougars have six games remaining against the Victoria Royals. It is entirely concievable that whoever wins the six-game series between Victoria and Prince George will wind up in the top eight of the Western Conference playoff picture.

4) I know that the Cougars are 0-5-0-0 in their last five games, but all five games have been played against either Vancouver or Kamloops who haven't lost much of anything as of late to anybody else. This doesn't give the Prince George Cougars a free pass, but it certainly should shed a little perspective into the recent struggles.

The Cougars host the Lethbridge Hurricanes tomorrow night at CN Centre with a 7:00 puck drop. I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Giants 3 - Cougars 0.

Tuesday night in Vancouver the Prince George Cougars were defeated 3-0 by the Vancouver Giants. The Giants converted on two of their eight power play attempts while the Cougars were unable to solve rookie goaltender Jackson Whsitle.

The Giants took the lead half-way through the first period when Dalton Sward beat Drew Owsley with a wrist-shot from the slot. Owsley was screened on the play and was unable to deny Sward of his 10th goal of the season.

After the Cougars failed to score on two consecutive power plays the Giants were given the chance, and took full advantage. Nathan Burns fed Brendan Gallagher in the left circle, and he fired one past Drew Owsley to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead after one. The shots on goal were 9-5 Vancouver after one.

The Cougars got off to a good start in period two and had some chances early, but credit the Giants defenders and goaltender for keeping the game at 2-0. Drew Owsley made two big saves in the second – One off of Brendan Gallagher on a wrap-around and the other was a breakaway save off of Nathan Burns.

Late in the second the Giants would convert on another power play. Jordan Martinook tipped home a Marek Tvrdon point-shot. Martinook’s 26th of the season gave Vancouver a 3-0 cushion after 40 minutes.

The Cougars outshot Vancouver 7-4 in the third period, but were unable to beat Jackson Whistle who turned aside all 20 shots he faced for the victory.

The Cougars finished the game zero-for-five on the power play while Vancouver was two-for-eight at the end of the game.

Newly acquired defenceman Ricard Blidstrand made his Cougars debut while AP defencemen joseph Carvalho and Raymond Grewal were impressive again.

The Cougars record now sits at 13-26-0-2 and they sit three points back of the Victoria Royals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with one game still in hand. The Prince George Cougars will now return home for a weekend set with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cougars Trade Deadline Recap.

It was a busy deadline day for the Prince George Cougars.

The Prince George Cougars traded Brett Connolly’s rights to the Tri City Americans. In return, the Cougars receive a fifth round pick in the 2013 draft, while also receiving a conditional first rounder pick in 2013 and a conditional second round pick in 2014.

Earlier this morning, the Cougars traded import defenceman Martin Marincin to the Regina Pats. In exchange the Cougars receive import defenceman Ricard Blidstrand, a first round draft pick in 2012, a second round pick in 2012 and a fifth round pick in 2013.

The Prince George Cougars will have Blidstrand in the lineup tonight when they take on the Vancouver Giants on the road.

In addition to the two trades, the Prince George Cougars have reassigned 17-year-old defenceman Josh Smith to the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and have recalled 18-year-old forward John Odgers for the remainder of the season.

Connolly's Rights Dealt to Tri City Americans.

The Prince George Cougars have traded Brett Connolly’s rights to the Tri City Americans. In return, the Prince George Cougars receive a fifth round draft pick in 2013, a conditional first round draft pick in 2013 and a conditional second round draft pick in 2014.

“When Brett Connolly made the Tampa Bay Lightning in October, we felt that he would be there for the full season and wouldn’t be coming back to us,” said Prince George Cougars General Manager Dallas Thompson. “If Brett Connolly does come back to the Western Hockey League this season – We’re happy with our return in this deal.”

Connolly was selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Connolly has played in 29 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season and has recorded four goals and eight points during his rookie season.
The Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants meet for the eighth and final time tonight at the Pacific Coliseum. The Cougars are 1-5-0-1 against Vancouver this season, and would snap a four-game losing skid with a victory.





Overview:

The Vancouver Giants are 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 games and are currently sitting fourth in the WHL’ Western Conference standings. The Giants are coming off an 8-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks.



Who’s Up Front:

Brendan Gallagher wasted no time in making an impact in his return to the Vancouver Giants lineup. Days removed from a bronze medal at the World Juniors, Gallagher scored three goals, and added four assists for Vancouver in their 8-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks.



Who’s on D:

Yesterday the Vancouver Giants bolstered their defense when they added 19-year-old Tyler Vanscourt in a trade with Moose Jaw. Vanscourt has recorded 21 points in 40 games this season, and adds some stability to the Giants blueline. Vanscourt is expected to make his Giants debut tonight against Prince George.



Who’s in Goal:

20-year-old goaltender Adam Morrison has six victories this season against Prince George and 24 victories altogether this season. Morrison has a goals against average of 2.49 and a save percentage of .910. His backup goaltender is Jackson Whistle who is still searching for his first victory in the WHL.



X-Factor:

Cain Franson has recorded 11 points (4G, 7A) in six games this season against the Prince George Cougars. The 18-year-old product of Sicamous, BC always seems to bring his best against Prince George, and the Cats will need to keep him in check if they want to find success tonight.





Overview:



The Prince George Cougars are still seeking their first victory of 2012. They have dropped their last four games, and have had their struggles with consistency as of late. That being said the Cougars are still just three points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and are just a good bounce or two away from turning things around. The Cats come into tonight’s game with a record of 13-25-0-2.



Who’s Up Front:

The Prince George Cougars have scored the fewest goals of any team in the Western Hockey League, and in order for them to get back on the right side of the win column, they’ll need a group effort offensively. The top trio of Alex Forsberg, Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak will need to do their part, but the Cougars are going to need some help from the other three lines. If the Cats can get some production from the likes of Greg Fraser and Campbell Elynuik, they’ll get the ball rolling in the right direction. It’s only a matter of time.



Who’s on D:

It’ll be important for the Cougars to restore some defensive confidence tonight. The Cougars strength lies in their depth on the back-end, and guys like Jesse Forsberg, Dan Gibb and Cody Carlson are no doubt going to be ready for a big game against Vancouver. They big key for the Cougars will be to keep Vancouver off of the power play.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley did not get a lot of help in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Kamloops, but was still pulled after allowing his fifth goal on 30 shots. Devon Fordyce stepped in and played well for the Cougars, surrendering just one goal on 11 shots faced. Regardless of who gets the call, the Cougars may need their goaltender to steal a victory.



X-Factor:

Discipline. If the Cougars can keep their opponent off of the power play they’ll give themselves a much better opportunity to secure two points. The Giants are dangerous in any situation, but they are much more of a threat with the extra attacker.

Cougars Trade Marincin to Regina.

The Prince George Cougars have traded import defenceman Martin Marincin (1992 – Kosice, Slovakia.) along with three draft-picks to the Regina Pats in exchange for import defenceman Ricard Blidstrand (1992 – Stockholm, Sweden.), a first round draft pick in 2012, a second round draft pick in 2012 and a 5th round draft pick in 2013.

Ricard Blidstrand has record 13 points (three goals) through 30 games played this season with Regina. Blidstrand has also registered 16 penalty minutes and is a +4. Blidstrand has played 100 games in the Western Hockey League and has 30 career points, all with Regina.

In addition to Marincin, the Cougars are also trading a fourth round draft pick in 2012, a seventh round draft pick in 2012 and a 4th round draft pick in 2013 to complete the deal.

Marincin had four goals and 17 points through 30 games this season with the Prince George Cougars.

The Prince George Cougars wish Martin Marincin good luck as he continues his Western Hockey League career in Regina.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Prince George City Council Approves Pilot Program to Sell Liquor During Cougars Games.

Check out the story HERE courtesy of CKPG.

This is my opinion is a huge step forward for the City of Prince George, and should greatly help the atmosphere at CN Centre.

The most important thing in my opinion is giving fans the option. Now it's important for the fans to not abuse the privilege.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blazers 6 - Cougars 1

Saturday night in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars were defeated 6-1 by the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers scored twice in each period while the Cougars countered with an early power play marker in the second period that was scored by Martin Marincin.

The Blazers led 2-0 after one. Both Kamloops goals came courtesy of Brendan Ranford who scored once on a power play in a scrum in front of Drew Owsley, and scored the other on a breakaway. The shots were 14-5 for Kamloops after one.

Early in the second, the Cougars found some life in the power play. Martin Marincin fired a shot home from the right point with Jesse Forsberg screening Cole Cheveldave. Marincin’s fourth of the season put the Cougars within one, and for the next six minutes were the better team. The Cougars had a couple of good chances to score, but neither Troy Bourke or Martin Marincin were able to beat Cole Cheveldave.

Kamloops extended their lead to 3-1 when Tim Bozon knocked home a bouncing puck in the slot area, and late in the period Bronson Maschmeyer tallied on the power play to give Kamloops a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.

Early in the third the Blazers made it 5-1 on Maschmeyer’s second of the game. The 5-1 goal spelt the end of the night for Drew Owsley who stopped 25 of the 30 shots he faced. Devon Fordyce relieved Owsley and surrendered one goal on 11 shots faced. The final goal from Kamloops came courtesy of Matthew Needham who scored on a power play late in the third.

The final shots on goal were 41-16 for Kamloops. The Blazers went three-for-six on the power play while the Cougars were one-for-two.

The Cougars record now sits at 13-25-0-2 and they now trail Victoria by three points in the Western Conference standings with two games still in hand.

The Cats are back in action on ‘Trade Deadline Tuesday’ in Vancouver.

Cougars Blazers Preview.

The Prince George Cougars and Kamloops Blazers will meet for a third consecutive game tonight at CN Centre. The Cougars have now gone two full games in a row without scoring, and are hoping to break out offensively in tonight’s game.

KAMLOOPS BLAZERS:

Overview:

The Kamloops Blazers are currently ranked second on the Western Conference and first in the B.C. Division. The Blazers are 27-10-1-2 through 40 games and are 5-2-0-0 this season against the Cougars.

Who’s Up Front:

The Kamloops Blazers can come at you in waves and they showed that again last night. Colin Smith led the way with a goal and an assist, and now has 20 goals on the season to lead the team. Smith leads the Blazers with 47 points through 40 games.

Who’s on D:

The game winner last night was scored by 20-yuear-old defenseman Bronson Maschmeyer. Maschmeyer has five goals now on the season and has 20 points through 40 games and is a +15.

Who’s in Goal:

Having posted back-to-back shutouts against Prince George, Cole Cheveldave is on a roll. Cheveldave is 19-5-1-2 with three shutouts. Cam Lanigan is his backup and could get the call. It all depends on the plan that Guy Charron and Dave Hunchak had in place for the weekend.

X-Factor:

Depth. It’s probably the largest contributing factor to the Blazers’ great record and it will need to continue to be strong if the Blazers want to make a strong push down the stretch. The Cougars need to maintain their defensive intensity no matter which trio of forwards are on the ice.

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS

Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are 4-6-0-0 in their last 10 games and are still two points back of eighth place in the Western Conference. The Cougars have only scored one goal in their last three games and are looking to regain some of their offensive confidence tonight against Kamloops.

Who’s Up Front:

In his first game back from U-17’s, Chase Witala was probably the most consistent forward for the Cougars in last night’s game. Witala had his legs going and was not afraid to shoot the puck. He was rewarded late in the game with some ice-time alongside Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak.

Who’s on D:

To a man the Cougars need to be faster and better defensively. During the post-game show last night, Dean Clark stressed the fact that he wants to see quicker passes and smarter decisions from his team in their own end. It’ll be important for the likes of Cody Carlson and Dan Gibb to lead the charge defensively and restore some swagger in the defensive zone.

Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley once again gave his team a chance to win the game and came up big stopping 42 of 44 shots faced. It’s not known yet whether Drew Owsley will get the call in net again tonight, but he’s certainly deserving of another start. Regardless of which goaltender goes tonight for Prince George, they’ll need some offensively help.

X-Factor:

The biggest key for the Cougars tonight will be to play to their strengths. They’ll need to be physical at both ends of the ice, and they’ll also need to go hard to the net and create as much traffic as possible in front of either Cole Cheveldave or Cam Lanigan. Getting a lead would also be a big boost for the Cougars, who are 11-5-0-1 when they score the first goal.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blazers 2 - Cougars 0

Cole Cheveldave continues to find success against the Prince George Cougars.

Friday night in Prince George, the Cougars were beaten 2-0 by the Kamloops Blazers. The Cats fired 32 shots at Cole Cheveldave, but were unable to put one past him. Drew Owsley was sharp for Prince George stopping 42 of 44 shots faced at the other end.

It was scoreless after 20 minutes of play. The Blazers outshot Prince George 16-7, but Kamloops also had the benefit of three first period power plays. Both goaltenders were strong early. Drew Owsley made some key saves while short-handed and Cole Cheveldave made two key saves off of Chase Witala to keep the game scoreless.

Early in the second period Kamloops drew first blood. Bronson Maschmeyer put home a Tim Bozon rebound for his fifth of the season.

The Cougars had a number of chances to tie the score but were unable to capitalize on three power plays. Cheveldave also made some clutch saves off of Reid Jackson, Greg Fraser and Daulton Siwak.

The third period did not go as well for the Cougars who had trouble generating the type of chances and shots that they did in the second. Kamloops made it 2-0 off a defensive-zone turnover. Colin Smith took the puck unassisted off the boards and fired one past Drew Owsley for his 20th goal of the season.

The Blazers outshot the Cougars 44-32. Both teams went scoreless on the man advantage with the Cougars missing on five opportunities. Kamloops finished zero-for-four.

For Cole Cheveldave it was his third shutout of the season – All of which have come against Prince George.

The Cougars record now sits at 13-24-0-2 while Kamloops improves to 27-10-1-2.

Even with the loss the Cougars still remain just two points behind the Victoria Royals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’ll look to climb the Western Conference ladder tomorrow night when they once again host the Kamloops Blazers.

Cougars - Blazers Preview.

The Prince George Cougars and Kamloops Blazers meet again this weekend for two matchups at CN Centre. The Prince George Cougars hold a record of 2-4-0-0 against the Blazers this season, and are looking to snap a two-game skid.

KAMLOOPS BLAZERS

Overview:

The Kamloops Blazers are 26-10-1-2 and are coming into this weekend sitting first in the B.C. Division and second place in the Western Conference overall. The Blazers are 5-3-0-2 in their past 10 games but are coming off a 5-0 shutout victory over Prince George last Sunday.



Who’s Up Front:

Blazers forwards Tim Bozon and Colin Smith have each recorded eight points in six games so far this season against Prince George. Bozon leads all Kamloops scorers with six goals. Colin Smith and Brendan Ranford come into tonight’s game tied for the team lead in points with 45 each.



Who’s on D:

One of the most impressive defenceman this season for Kamloops has been 18-year-old defenceman Tyler Hansen. He hasn’t scored a goal, but has managed 12 assists and leads the entire team with a +24 rating.



Who’s in Goal:

Cole Cheveldave earned the 22 save shutout on Sunday in Kamloops and would certainly be a favourite to get the call in goal again this evening. If not, the Blazers could go with Cam Lanigan who is 7-4 this season.



X-Factor:

The Kamloops Blazers were three-for-eight on the man-advantage Sunday. The Cougars will need to stay disciplined and minimize the Blazers opportunities with the extra man. If the Cougars can stay five-on-five with Kamloops they give themselves a better chance.


PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS


Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games and are heading into this weekend trailing the Victoria Royals by two points in the Western Conference. The Cougars won their last outing at home, 3-1 against the Calgary Hitmen. The Cougars record is 13-23-0-2



Who’s Up Front:

The Prince George Cougars will be pleased to welcome back Alex Forsberg (26 points), Jordan Tkatch (11 points), Chase Witala (nine points) and Jarrett Fontaine (five points) back to the lineup this evening. All four have recently returned from the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, and all will help provide depth and skill to this Cougars hockey club.



Who’s on D:

The Cougars also get 19-year-old Martin Marincin back from the World Junior hockey championships. Marincin will add size, skill and a power play presence to the Cougars lineup and makes them instantly better at both ends of the ice.



Who’s in Goal:

Admittedly Sunday was not Drew Owsley’s best outing of the season but he’s been great at bouncing back this season, and he’ll also have some more fresh bodies in front of him which will help greatly. Owsley was recently named the Prince George Cougars player of the month for December.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars need a good start in tonight’s game. When the Cougars score first they are 11-5-0-1 this season. The Cats had a great start on December 28th at home against Calgary, and if they can duplicate that type of start, they’ll put themselves into a great position to find success and victory.