Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tigers 4 - Cougars 1

Wednesday night in Prince George, Hunter Shinkaruk scored three times to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. Greg Fraser managed the lone tally for the Cougars who remain just four points out of eighth place in the Western Conference.

It was 1-1 after one and the game had a great flow to it. The Tigers opened the scoring when Shinkaruk converted an Emerson Etem pass for his 43rd goal of the season.

Greg Fraser tied the game late in the period on a Cougars power play. Fraser did a solid job of knocking down a bouncing puck in the slot area, and then he roofed a back hand shot past Tyler Bunz for his team-leading 16th goal of the season.

Both goalies made some sharp saves on the first period to keep the game close.

The second period provided a similar pace with equal opportunities at both ends. Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak nearly connected on a two-on-one chance, but Tyler Bunz denied Bourke and the Tigers capitalized. Drew Owsley then made a glorious save off of Kale Kessy to keep the score tied.

Mid-way through the frame, Brendan Hurley fired a shot through a screen that got past Drew Owsley. Hurley’s fifth gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Early in the third, the Cougars came close again, but Spencer Asuchak was robbed in close by Tyler Bunz who finished with 32 saves on 33 shots faced.

Hunter Shinkaruk padded the lead to 3-1 when he beat the defense to the outside and wired a wrist-shot past Drew Owsley for his 44th goal of the season. He would then add the empty-netter late to seal the game for the Tigers.

The Cougars were one-for-four on the power play while the Tigers were zero-for-one on their lone opportunity.

Medicine Hat outshot the Cougars 43-33.

Nothing changes in the race for eighth place for the Cougars. They have nine games remaining in their regular season and trail the Seattle Thunderbirds by four points, having played in one more game.

Next up: The Spokane Chiefs on Friday and Saturday at CN Centre. The Cougars have a 2-0-0-0 record against the Chiefs and will hope to build off of that success on Friday night.

Cougars - Tigers (Part Two).

The Prince George Cougars will take the ice tonight for their fourth consecutive game at home. For the second and final time this season, the Cougars will face off with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Tigers secured the 3-2 victory last night, and tonight the Cougars will look to snap a five-game losing skid and inch a little bit closer to eighth place in the Western Conference.





Overview:

Shaun Clouston’s Tigers head into tonight’s game with the third best record in the Eastern Conference. The Tigers are 38-21-2-3 and currently hold a four point lead over the Calgary Hitmen for third but are still eight points back of Edmonton for first in the Central Division.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way last night for Medicine Hat was the duo of Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk. The two combined for five points and were everything as advertised. Etem had three assists while Shinkaruk had two goals, including the game winner. The Cougars did a good job against them five-on-five but the primary goal tonight will be to keep the Tigers off of the power play.



Who’s on D:

20-year-old defencemen Matthew Konan was a rock for the Tigers in last night’s game. He assisted on the game’s first goal and also logged a lot of key minutes alongside defense partner James Bettauer.



Who’s in Goal:

Tyler Bunz returned to the goal for Medicine Hat last night and stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced for the victory. He looked a tad rusty at times, but Bunz made the saves when he had too and did his part to keep the Tigers ahead.



X-Factor:

The Cougars showed last night that they are more than capable of playing with the Tigers five-on-five. If the Tigers get on the power play they will prove to be very dangerous again. Special teams will likely be a huge factor in deciding the outcome of tonight’s game.







Overview:

Heading into tonight’s game, the Prince George Cougars are four points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Though the Cougars have dropped five straight, other teams in the Western Conference continue to do the Cougars favors. With 10 games remaining in their regular season, the Cougars need to start helping themselves, and they can do so with two points tonight.

Who’s Up Front:

The Prince George Cougars are hoping that Troy Bourke can continue to create offense at his current pace. Bourke has four goals in his past five games, and is now one goal shy from a share of the team-lead. The draft-eligible forward will need to have another big night to help his team back into the win column.



Who’s on D:

Dean Clark used the tandem of Ricard Blidstrand and Reid Jackson against Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk last night, and he was happy with the results that he saw five-on-five. He hinted earlier today that these two will likely see a lot of ice time against them again tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley was marvelous for the Cougars in last night’s game. He saw 44 shots and stopped 41 of them, and once again gave his team every opportunity to win the game. You can’t ask for much more than what Drew Owsley has consistently provided for the Cougars.



X-Factor:

Special teams was one of the major factors that cost the Cougars in last night’s game. If you take away the Tigers power play goal and short-handed goal, you’ve probably got a different outcome. If the Cougars can find a way to get the power play clicking tonight, while limiting the Tigers opportunities, the Cougars could very well be back within two points of the Western Conference playoffs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tigers Edge Cougars 3-2.

Tuesday night in Prince George, Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk teamed up for five combined points as the Medicine Hat Tigers edged the Prince George Cougars 3-2. Shinkaruk scored twice while Emerson Etem tallied three helpers. The Cougars got their goals from Troy Bourke and Caleb Belter, along with 41 saves from Drew Owsley.

It was 1-0 Medicine Hat after one. The only goal of the period came on a power play when Shinkaruk converted a back-door pass from Matthew Konan. Shinkaruk’s 41st goal of the season gave his team the 1-0 lead.

Prince George had two really good chances in the first, but both Daulton Siwak and Caleb Belter were unable to beat Tyler Bunz from in close.

The visitors took a 2-0 lead early in the second when Alex Theriau notched his third of the season while short-handed. The Cougars were checked off the puck in the defensive zone, and Theriau walked in from the point and converted off a pass from Dylan Bredo.

Troy Bourke made it a 2-1 game after he weaved his way through several defenders before placing a back-hander past Tyler Bunz for his 14th of the season. Bourke has scored in back-to-back games, and has scored four goals in his last five games overall.

90 seconds later the Tigers regained their lead when Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk combined for Shinkaruk’s 42nd goal of the season. The Tigers would take their 3-1 lead into the third.

For a third consecutive night, the Cougars made a third period charge. Caleb Belter was able to beat Tyler Bunz for his fifth of the year, and all of a sudden the Cougars were down 3-2 with just over five minutes to play.

Unfortunately for the Cougars their comeback bid once again fell just short, and the Tigers held on for the victory.

Prince George finished zero-for-two on the man advantage while the Medicine Hat Tigers were one-for-two. The Tigers outshot the Cougars 44-21. Drew Owsley was sharp for the Cougars stopping 41 shots faced, including several key saves off of Emerson Etem who was unable to build on his 53 goals this season.

The Cougars will get another crack at the Tigers tomorrow night (Wednesday) at CN Centre.

Cougars - Tigers Preview.

The Prince George Cougars continue their eight-game home stand tonight with their first of two straight meetings with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Cougars and Tigers have not yet faced one another this season, and the Cougars are hoping to take advantage of their final cross-conference matchups before the regular season concludes.





Overview:

Shaun Clouston’s Tigers head into tonight’s game with the third best record in the Eastern Conference. The Tigers are 37-21-2-3 and currently hold a two point lead over the Calgary Hitmen for third. The Tigers are 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games overall.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way up front for the Tigers is 19-year-old California product Emerson Etem. Etem currently leads the WHL with 53 goals on the year and is the team leader in power play goals (15) and plus-minus (+21).



Who’s on D:

20-year-old defencemen James Bettauer and Matthew Konan are both have excellent seasons offensively for the Tigers. Bettauer has 49 points this season while Konan has 48. Bettauer has chipped in 11 goals on the power play this season.



Who’s in Goal:

Reports out of Medicine Hat suggest that Tyler Bunz will be back in goal for Medicine Hat after missing some time as of late. Bunz is 34-14-2-2 this season and has a goals against average of 2.52 and a save percentage of .922. His backup is Kenny Cameron who is 3-7-0-1 with a 3.24 goals against average and a save percentage of .899.



X-Factor:

While the Cougars certainly need to keep their tabs on Emerson Etem, the Tigers also boast another premiere offensive threat in Hunter Shinkaruk. The sophomore from Calgary has 40 goals through 57 games and has complimented Emerson Etem very nicely all season. The Cougars will need to make sure that they are aware of Shinkaruk, and don’t take his abilities lightly.





Overview:

Heading into tonight’s game, the Prince George Cougars are four points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. A win tonight for the Cougars coupled with Seattle and Victoria losses would move the Cougars back to within two points of the Western Conference playoff picture. It won’t be an easy test, but the Cougars have shown this season that they can go toe-to-toe with the league’s best and find success.



Who’s Up Front:

The Prince George Cougars are hoping that the likes of Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak can build off of a solid outing on Saturday night. Bourke and Siwak both scored, and both achieved new career milestones in the process. Bourke’s goal gave him 43 points on the season which is a new season high, while Daulton Siwak’s 14th goal of the year gives him a new season high for goals.



Who’s on D:

Cody Carlson had a two-point night on Saturday against Victoria, and no doubt he’ll be expected to provide a solid two-way game again tonight for the Cougars. Carlson and Dan Gibb will very likely see a lot of ice-time against Emerson Etem, so it will be key for Carlson to pick his moments offensively. A big night from Carlson and Gibb would go a long way in helping the Cougars defeat the Tigers.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley will likely get the call tonight for the Cougars. Owsley has lost his last three starts, and will be looking to get his team back on the winning side of things. Owsley set a new season high for saves in a season on Saturday when he stopped 37 of the 41 shots he faced. Heading into tonight’s game, Drew Owsley has 1499 saves on the season.



X-Factor:

Two of the major bright spots as of late for the Cougars have been rookie forwards Chase Witala and Jarrett Fontaine. Fontaine has assists in three straight games for the Cougars while Chase Witala has scored in two straight games. If these two can continue to supply secondary scoring for the Cougars they’ll give themselves a terrific opportunity to defeat Medicine Hat, and inch closer to eighth place.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Royals 5 - Cougars 3

Saturday night in Prince George the Prince George Cougars dropped a 5-3 score to the Victoria Royals. Robin Soudek scored twice for Victoria in the victory while Cody Carlson and Daulton Siwak each recorded two-point games for the Cougars.

It was a 1-1 game after one period. The Royals opened the scoring when Zane Jones banged home a Dakota Conroy rebound for his 12th of the season. It wouldn’t last long.

23 seconds later the Cougars evened the score when Troy Bourke raced across the blueline and wired a shot past Jared Rathjen for his 13th goal of the year. Bourke’s goal gives him 43 points on the season which is a new season-high for the 17-year-old.

Early in the second, Victoria went up 2-1 when Robin Soudek converted off a two-on-one pass from Logan Nelson. The Royals would add to their lead late in the second when Brandon Magee netted his 21st of the season, and the Royals took a 3-1 lead into the third period for a second game in a row.

Robin Soudek scored early in the third to push Victoria’s lead to 4-1 and that’s when the Cougars turned things around.

Jarrett Fontaine made a nice move while short-handed to set up Daulton Siwak in close. Siwak made no mistake for his 14th goal of the season, which happens to be a new season high for him. Siwak assisted on Bourke’s goal to give him a multi-point game. The assist for Fontaine helps him extend his point streak to three games.

Just under three minutes later, Chase Witala continued his recent hot stretch with his sixth of the season. It was 4-3 Victoria with about half a period to go.

Unfortunately for the Cougars their comeback bid ended there. The Cougars were given a late power play but could not convert with the extra attacker. Steven Hodges sealed the game for Victoria with an empty-netter with 67 seconds remaining in the game.

Victoria outshot Prince George 42-33. Cougars netminder Drew Owsley made 37 saves on 41 shots faced while Jared Rathjen turned aside 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Both teams finished zero-for-six on the power play, but the Cougars did have the short-handed goal from Daulton Siwak.

The loss moves the Cougars record to 19-40-0-2 and the Cougars will now head into this week four points back of the Seattle Thunderbirds for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Cougars return to action on Tuesday night at home against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Cougars - Royals (Part Two)

After suffering a 4-2 setback last night to Victoria, the Prince George Cougars get right back at it tonight against the same Royals club. It’s the eighth and final meeting between these B.C. Division rivals and with four points separating the two teams, you can bet that tonight’s game will be filled with passion – Especially from the Cougars side.


VICTORIA ROYALS


Overview:

Marc Habscheid’s Victoria Royals are coming into tonight having gone 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games. They are 19-36-2-4 and are now in sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference standings. The Royals are 5-2-0-0 this season against the Prince George Cougars. The Royals have played in one more game than the Cougars.



Who’s Up Front:

Credit the Victoria Royals were beat the Cougars 4-2 last night without much help from their usual goal scorers. Jamie Crooks (32 goals) and Logan Nelson (54 points) were both held scoreless in last night’s game while the likes of Dakota Conroy, Austin Carroll and Robin Soudek (empty netter) supplied the offense.



Who’s on D:

Last night Hayden Rintoul was one of the best players on the ice for either team. He opened the scoring by taking the puck end-to-end and then around the Cougars goal to score his 15th of the season. Rintoul was sharp in his own end as well, and showed why he is considered to be one of the top 20-year-olds in the Western Hockey League.



Who’s in Goal:

What a night for Prince George’s Jared Rathjen. Rathjen earned his first career victory in the WHL and made 26 saves on the 28 shots he faced for the victory. Rathjen is 1-5-1-0 and has started two consecutive games for the Royals. It’s not known yet whether Keith Hamilton will go tonight for Victoria or whether Rathjen will get the nod once again.



X-Factor:

For only the second time in seven meetings the Victoria Royals managed to score first against the Cougars. That first goal proved to be a big one as it helped Victoria establish some strong momentum on the road. The first goal of tonight’s game will be a big one for either club.


PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS


Overview:

The Prince George Cougars head into tonight’s game with a 3-7-0-0 record in their last 10 games. They are one point back of ninth placed Everett and two points back of eighth placed Seattle in the Western Conference. With Everett and Seattle playing each other tonight, the Cougars won’t be able to jump into the top eight tonight, but a victory against the Victoria Royals is tremendously important to keep the Cougars within striking distance of eighth place in the Western Conference.



Who’s Up Front:

Chase Witala has had some strong outings this season, but last night’s game was arguably his best game in a Cougars uniform. Every time Witala touched the puck he made something happen. He scored the Cougars second goal and was denied of a few more by his former midget teammate Jared Rathjen. Another strong outing from Chase Witala would be a great sign for the Cougars who are looking to close the gap.



Who’s on D:

Dan Gibb got his name on the score sheet again last night, and has now recorded three points in his past four games. Gibb has a new season high of nine points on the year, and you know that he’d love to reach double digits before all is said and done.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced in last night’s game and did his part to keep his team within striking distance. Owsley is no stranger to pressure and you know that he’ll be ready to go tonight if his name is called to start. Owsley is looking for his 19th win of the season.



X-Factor:

The trio of Troy Bourke, Daulton Siwak and Spencer Asuchak were hold pointless for a third consecutive game against the Royals. These three had their moments in last night’s game, but if the Cougars want to climb back within two points of the Royals, these three will need to help lead the charge. Spencer Asuchak is tied for the team lead in goals with 15. Troy Bourke is one more point away from setting a new season high. And Daulton Siwak is one goal away from setting a new season high.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cougars Comeback Bid Falls Short Against Victoria.

Friday night in Prince George, the Prince George Cougars dropped a 4-2 score to the Victoria Royals. Victoria scored two unanswered goals in the second period to give them a 3-1 cushion that they ultimately would not surrender.

The Cougars and Royals were tied at one, after one period. Hayden Rintoul opened the scoring for Victoria on a power play at 6:12 of the first. He took the puck from his own end of the ice all the way around the Cougars goal, and was able to back-hand a shot past Drew Owsley for his 15th goal of the season.

Greg Fraser tied the game at 14:23 of the first when he flipped a shot upstairs on Jared Rathjen for his 15th goal of the season. For Fraser it was his seventh point in seven games this season against the Victoria Royals.

Mid-way through the second period, Victoria took a 2-1 lead when Dakota Conroy snuck a shot underneath Drew Owsley from the right wing. The Royals would add to their lead when Austin Carroll found the puck in the slot area and spun around to score his seventh of the year.

Early in the third, the Cougars made it 3-2 on a gorgeous finish from Chase Witala. Witala had been buzzing all game and was finally rewarded with his fifth of the season which went up and over Jared Rathjen.

For the rest of the game, the Cougars held a majority of the pressure. Chase Witala along with linemates Jarrett Fontaine and Jordan Tkatch were creating a ton of chances but were unable to find the equalizer. Witala was named the game’s first star for his efforts.

Victoria sealed the deal in the final seconds with an empty-netter from Robin Soudek.

The Royals earn their 19th victory of the season while the Cougars fall to 19-39-0-2 this season. The Cougars now trail the Royals by four points in the Western Conference standings, and will look to draw back within two tomorrow night when these teams meet again.

Prince George outshot Victoria 28-26, but finished zero-for-three on the power play while the Royals finished one-for-two.

These teams meet again on Saturday night at CN Centre.

Cougars - Royals Preview.

The Prince George Cougars will play their first of eight straight home games tonight against the Victoria Royals. This weekend these two rivals will meet for the final two times during the regular season. A win tonight for the Cougars coupled with an Everett loss to Tri City and they are back in the top eight of the Western Conference standings.



Overview:

Marc Habscheid’s Victoria Royals head into tonight’s game with a 2-7-0-1 record in their last 10 games. The Royals have dropped two straight games and are barely holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Royals are 18-36-2-4.

Who’s Up Front:

Victoria forward Brandon Magee always seems to bring his best against the Cougars. In six games played, Magee has tallied nine points against the Cougars including three goals. So far this season Magee has 43 points in 53 games.

Who’s on D:

Royals captain Hayden Rintoul had Victoria’s lone goal when these teams last met on Saturday, February 18th. Rintoul has scored twice and has added two assists in six meetings this season.

Who’s in Goal:

When these teams last met, Royals netminder Keith Hamilton was chased from the net after surrendering three goals on just 10 shots. I’d expect Hamilton will be looking for a strong bounce-back game against Prince George should he get his number called tonight.

X-Factor:

Ben Walker has been a truly effective forward for the Victoria Royals. In four games against Prince George, Walker has managed seven points. The Royals have some strong offensive depth and Walker always seems to bring his best against the Cougars. Keeping Walker in check will be a big priority for the Cougars.



Overview:

Dean Clark’s Prince George Cougars head into tonight knowing that their next eight consecutive games will be played at home. The Cats are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games and are 19-38-0-2 this season. A victory tonight for the Cougars coupled with an Everett loss would move the Cougars into eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

Who’s Up Front:

Cougars forward Troy Bourke has been the team’s best player on many nights this season. Even though the Cougars fell twice in Portland, it was great to see Troy Bourke score in both games. He now has 12 goals this season and has matched last season’ point total (42 points) with 13 more still to be played. If Bourke can continue to light the lamp offensively it will be a great asset to the Cougars tonight against Victoria.

Who’s on D:

Dan Gibb recorded his first goal of the season when these teams last met on Saturday, February 18th. Gibb has set a new season high for points with eight already this season, and has been one of the main ‘go-too guys’ defensively all season for the Cougars. A big weekend from Gibb and his fellow defencemen will be important for the Cougars against Victoria.

Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley was acquired for weekends like this one. The 20-year-old goaltender was marvelous during the most recent meeting between these two teams, and you know that he’ll be tested often against this Royals offense. If Drew Owsley can play with a lead this weekend he’ll be incredibly difficult to beat. He’s shown that season that leads are safe, especially in the third period. The Cougars are 12-1-0-0 this season when leading after two periods and Drew Owsley is a huge reason why.

X-Factor:

The first 10 minutes of tonight’s game will be very telling. If the Cougars can come out and set a physical tone and get the crowd into it, I think it bodes well for them over the weekend. Keep in mind that these two teams are both not shy about dropping the gloves. If the Cougars can be the aggressor early, I like their chances against the Royals.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cougars Wrap Up Road Trip With a Loss in Portland.

Tuesday night in Portland, the Prince George Cougars were defeated 8-1 by the Portland Winterhawks. Brendan Leipsic scored three goals and added two assists and the Winterhawks finished the game four-for-five on the power play.

Portland led 2-0 after one period. The Winterhawks opened the scoring early at 2:52 when Ty Rattie buried his 51st goal of the season. He skated from the left wing into the high slot area and beat Devon Fordyce glove side.

Brad Ross then made it 2-0 at 9:40 of the first when he skated up the middle of the ice, and fired a shot past Devon Fordyce from the high slot area.

In the second period the Cougars got into some penalty trouble and it cost them. Marcel Noebels, Joseph Morrow, Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic all scored power play goals in the second. Leipsic added another goal at even strength.

The Cougars lone goal game courtesy of Troy Bourke to make the game 3-1 at 5:56 of the second. Bourke knocked home a Jarrett fontaine rebound for his 12th of the season and his second in as many games. That goal also helped Bourke tie his point total from last season (42 points).

Portland took a 7-1 lead into the third period. Brendan Leipsic completed his hat-trick off a two-on-one rush at the 7:52 mark of the third period.

In the end the Cougars were outshot 40-27. Portland finished four-for-five on the power play while the Cougars went scoreless on their only opportunity.

The Cougars record now sits at 19-38-0-2 which still leaves them just two points back of seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

Next up for the Cougars, an extremely important weekend at home with the Victoria Royals. Victoria currently holds a two-point edge on the Cougars in the Western Conference, and a win Friday would put the Cougars back into the top eight.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cougars - Winterhawks Part Two.

After a 7-2 defeat last night at the hands of the Portland Winterhawks, the Prince George Cougars will get back at it on Tuesday night against Portland. After a tough first 40 minutes, the Cougars had a better final 20, and they’ll look to build off of some of those positives heading into Tuesday’s game.




Overview:

The Portland Winterhawks come into tonight’s game with a record of 41-15-2-1. They are 9-1-0-0 in their last 10 games and have won seven in a row.



Who’s Up Front:

Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie were once again the premiere offensive factors for the Portland Winterhawks. Both Rattie and Bartschi scored twice in yesterday’s game. Rattie’s second of the game was his 50th of the season. Rattie now sits at 100 points on the season becoming the second player this season to reach that mark.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Winterhawks got a very strong outing from Joseph Morrow in Monday’s victory. Morrow led all Portland defencemen with a goal and an assist, and moved the puck very well from the back-end. The Winterhawks are not shy about involving their defencemen in the offense, and it’ll be key for the Cougars to keep the Portland defenders neutralized tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Portland goaltender Mac Carruth stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced in yesterday’s game. He was tested a lot more in the third period and was able to make enough saves the necessary saves to keep his team on top.



X-Factor:

With three power play goals on Monday. The Winterhawks power play now sits first overall in the WHL. Portland are very dangerous five-on-five and if you give them the extra attacker they are even more prone to success.




Overview:



The Cougars head into tonight’s game trailing the eighth placed Victoria Royals and seventh placed Seattle Thunderbirds by two points in the Western Conference standings. A win for the Cougars could vault them into seventh place. The Cougars are 4-6-0-0 in their last 10 games and are gunning for a split on their current four game road-trip.



Who’s Up Front:

Both Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak found the back of the net for the Cougars yesterday. For Bourke it was his 11th of the season and he now has 41 points which is one shy of last year's mark. Siwak has scored eighth goals since arriving to Prince George in a late December trade with Red Deer and leads has more goals than any other player during the second half of the season.



Who’s on D:

Dan Gibb is in the midst of a two-game point streak for the Cougars. With an assist yesterday coupled with a goal on Friday, Gibb is adding some offense to his already solid defensive game. Gibb and the rest of the Cougars will need to be at their best defensivley tonight as they once again will be facing a tough Winterhawks foe.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley was pulled from Monday's game after Portland's fifth goal came in the second period. Owsley could not really be faulted for many that went through him, and I'd expect a strong game from him if he is indeed getting the call in goal tonight. Owsley is 11-4-1-0 lifetime against Portland. Devon Fordyce provided some solid relief for the Cougars last night. he faced 26 shots and made 24 saves.

X-Factor:

Once again the major x-factor for the Cougars tonight will be discipline. The Winterhawks were three-for-six on their power plays yesterday and the Cougars need to keep them off of the power play. Granted it's a difficult task given the skill-set of the Winterhawks. But the Cougars have beaten the Winterhawks once before this season, and if they can do it again it will lift them back into the top eight of the Western Conference. That's some pretty good incentive for the Cougars tonight on the road.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Winterhawks 7 - Cougars 2

Monday afternoon in Portland, the Prince George Cougars fell 7-2 to the Portland Winterhawks. Ty Rattie and Sven Bartschi each scored twice for Portland while Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak tallied for the Cougars in response.

Portland struck early in the first period when Chase De Leo found the puck in the slot area and beat Drew Owsley for his 12th of the season. Then at 8:20 while short-handed, Sven Bartschi raced in down the left-wing side and managed to deflect the puck off the Cougars defender and in past Drew Owsley for his 23rd goal of the season.

55 seconds after the Bartschi goal, Troy Bourke hopped on a loose puck in the Winterhawks zone, and split through the defenders and lifted a back-hander past Mac Carruth for his 11th of the season.

just over three minutes later Portland capitalized on their first of three power play goals. Joseph Morrow fired a shot from the right point that found it’s way through traffic and into the net.

Portland took the 3-1 lead into the first intermission. The shots on goal were 17-7 for the Winterhawks after one.

Early in the second the Winterhawks added to their lead when Sven Bartschi converted on his second of the night. Brandon Leipsic would add a power play marker shortly thereafter and that spelt the end of the night for Drew Owsley.

Owsley faced 24 shots and made 19 saves. Devon Fordyce played the rest of the game and stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced.

Ty Rattie struck for his 49th of the season on another Portland power play and the Winterhawks led 6-1 at the halfway point of the second period. That’s the way the second would end.

Early in the third, the Cougars came out with a ton of jump and it led to an early goal. Daulton Siwak buried his 13th of the season from in close on Mac Carruth and the Cougars trailed 6-2.

The Cougars continued to pepper the Portland goaltender, but Mac Carruth made the necessary saves to keep the game at 6-2.

Only one more goal was scored and it came late in the third period courtesy of Ty Rattie. Rattie who received a pass from Taylor Leier at the side of the goal and knocked in his 50th goal of the season.

In the end, the Winterhawks finished three-for-six on the power play while the Cougars were zero-for-four. The final shots on goal were 50-29 for Portland. The Cougars and Winterhawks will meet again on Tuesday night at 7.

Cougars - Winterhawks Preview

After a 3-1 victory in Victoria on Saturday, the Prince George Cougars return to action this afternoon against the Portland Winterhawks. Tonight’s game marks the third time these teams meet this season with the Cougars holding a 1-1-0-0 record against them so far.





Overview:

The Portland Winterhawks come into this afternoon’s game riding the longest active winning streak in the WHL. Portland has won six games in a row and are 9-1-0-0 in their last 10 games overall. The Winterhawks are coming off an 11-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds.



Who’s Up Front:

The Portland Winterhawks boast two of the league’s premiere forwards in Ty Rattie and Sven Bartschi. Rattie heads into this afternoon’s game with 48 goals and 49 assists for 97 points in 55 games. Bartschi has put up 78 points in 39 games. These two are as lethal as it gets in the Western Hockey League, and the Cougars are going to need to be mindful of them each time they take the ice.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Winterhawks are very well rounded and have multiple offensive weapons from the back end. Leading the way is Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Joe Morrow. Morrow has 49 points in 49 games for Portland including seven goals on the power play. Add the likes of Troy Rutkowski, Derrick Pouliot and Tyler Wotherspoon, and the Winterhawks’ blueline rivals any in the league as far as depth and talent.



Who’s in Goal:

The Portland Winterhawks undisputed number one goaltender is Mac Carruth. So far this season the Chicago Blackhawks draft pick has posted 36 victories with a goals against of 2.92 and a save percentage of .907. His backup is Brendan Burke who holds a record of 4-2-1-1 this season.



X-Factor:

Heading into tonight’s game the Portland Winterhawks power play is ranked second in the Western Hockey League with a success rate of 28.5 percent. 24 of Ty Rattie’s 48 goals have come with the man advantage. Keeping the Winterhawks off of the power play will be a big factor for the Cougars this afternoon.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are coming into this afternoon’s game having won three of their last five, and are 4-6-0-0 in their last 10 games. The Cougars defeated the Victoria Royals 3-1 on Saturday night, and are now just two points back of the seventh placed Seattle Thunderbirds. The Cougars overall record is 19-36-0-2.



Who’s Up Front:

Caleb Belter has goals in back-to-back games for the Prince George Cougars and is now sitting at nine points on the season. Since returning from injury Caleb Belter has been very productive and consistent for the Cougars. Saturday night the trio of Caleb Belter, Campbell Elynuik and Greg Fraser were very effective against the Royals, and the Cougars are no doubt hoping for more of the same this afternoon.



Who’s on D:

Ricard Blidstrand has very quietly put together a three-game point streak for the Cougars. Blidstrand has been a solid addition to the Cougars lineup since joining them on January 10th. Blidstrand and his fellow blueliners were praised for how simple and effective they were on Saturday, and a similar performance would bode very well for the Cougars this week against the Winterhawks.



Who’s in Goal:

One player who is very familiar with Portland is Drew Owsley. Over the course of his WHL career, Drew Owsley is 11-3-0-1. Owsley made 39 saves off of 42 shots faced when the Cougars and Winterhawks last squared off on December 7th in Prince George. The Cougars won that night 4-3 in overtime.



X-Factor:

Discipline will be a major key for the Cougars this week against Portland. If the Cougars can keep the Winterhawks five-on-five they give themselves a much better chance at finding success. The Cougars would also greatly benefit from scoring the first goal. They’ve scored the first goal in three consecutive games, and have won two of them.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Victory in Victoria.

After a 4-2 loss on Friday, the Prince George Cougars bounced back with a 3-1 victory on Saturday and earned a valuable split with the Victoria Royals over the weekend. Caleb Belter led the way with a goal and an assist, and Drew Owsley stopped 28 of 29 shots faced for his 18th victory of the season.

The Cougars opened the scoring at 8:23 of the first period and it came off the stick of Dan Gibb. Caleb Belter found Dan Gibb at the right point, and Gibb made no mistake. He fired a shot past Keith Hamilton for his first goal of the season.

Caleb Belter added to the lead at 16:39 on the power play when he skated up the ice and fired a wrister past Hamilton from the high slot. For Belter it was his fourth of the season and his second in as many games.

Greg Fraser would make it 3-0 while short-handed. Fraser stole the puck from Jordan Fransoo at the Cougars blueline, and fired a shot past Keith Hamilton. Fraser’s goal spelt the end of the night for Hamilton, who was pulled after surrendering three goals on 10 shots faced.

In came Prince George product Jared Rathjen and the Royals seemed to get a boost. Hayden Rintoul scored on the same power play at 19:22 to give the Royals some life, but the score was 3-1 for the visitors after one period.

The second period went back-and-forth but the Cougars held their ground. Campbell Elynuik had a spirited fight with Keegan Kanzig and the Cougars came awfully close on a five-on-three man advantage, but Rathjen held his team in it.

Prince George received a bench-minor at the end of the second, and Victoria started the third period on the power play. Drew Owsley made a glorious save off of Logan Nelson to keep the game at 3-1.

Mid-way through the third period another fight broke out. Reid Jackson delivered a clean open-ice body check to Tim Traber. Traber and Jackson then dropped the gloves. Traber was given an instigator for fighting but the Cougars couldn’t take advantage.

Victoria was given a late power play, but Drew Owsley made some key saves off of Steven Hodges and Logan Nelson, and the Cougars held on for the 3-1 victory.

Both teams were one-for-five on the power play and Victoria finished the game with a slight edge in the shots department: 29-27.

The victory improves the Cougars record to 19-36-0-2 and they now trail both Seattle and Victoria by two points in the Western Conference playoff race.

Next up for the Cougars: The Portland Winterhawks. The Cougars and Winterhawks will square off on Monday afternoon at 3:00 and then again on Tuesday night.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cougars Set for Rematch With the Royals.

The Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals will meet for the sixth time this season tonight. Victoria defeated the Cougars 4-2 in last night’s game, and now hold a four-point lead on the Cougars for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Last night’s game was a fight-filled affair and you know that both of these teams will be ready to battle again tonight.



Overview:

The Victoria Royals come into tonight’s game with a record of 18-34-2-4. They have 42 points on the season and are currently sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. With the 4-2 victory last night, the Royals snapped a five game losing streak.



Who’s Up Front:

Steven Hodges was named the game’s first star last night for the Royals. He scored once and added an assist on the game-winner. Hodges was all over the ice, and made several key plays at both ends of the ice.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Royals relied heavily on 19-year-old defenceman Tyler Stahl who made his return to the lineup after serving a suspension. Stahl was one of many Royals defenders who played physically and effectively. His offensive numbers won’t wow you, but Stahl showed last night that he can be a key contributor for Victoria.



Who’s in Goal:

Keith Hamilton has four victories this season against the Prince George Cougars. Last night he stopped 18 of the 20 shots he faced and came up big for his team late in the third period when the Cougars were coming on hard. Hamilton has 17 of the Royals 18 victories this season.



X-Factor:

The Victoria power play was the difference in last night’s game. They went two-for-five on the man advantage, and both goals were scored at the tail-end of the power plays too. The Cougars will need to try and keep Victoria’s power play in check tonight.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars head into tonight’s game with a record of 18-36-0-2. They are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games, and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot through 56 games. Even though this team has been through some ups-and-downs this season, you have to credit their resolve for being able to hang in there. A win tonight would put them right back where they started the weekend.



Who’s Up Front:

It was a solid outing last night for both Jordan Tkatch and Jarrett Fontaine. Both were a +2 in last night’s game and Tkatch recorded an assist on Jake Mykitiuk’s fifth of the season. The Cougars will need a similar effort from those guys again tonight.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Cougars had their moments of brilliance last night, but they also their moments of struggle. Losing Cody Carlson was a big set-back for the Cougars who really missed his services on the power play. Carlson (who is from Victoria) will no doubt want to bring his best tonight, for it may be the last time he plays a WHL game in this building.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley battled through some difficult circumstances in last night’s game and stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced. He made some glorious saves off of Zane Jones in particular, and if called upon again tonight you know that he’ll be ready. The Cougars backup goaltender is Devon Fordyce who is 1-7-0-1 and the Cougars also have prospect goaltender Ty Edmonds with them this weekend. Edmonds has a bye week from Midget AAA, so he’s joined the Cougars to get a taste of life in the WHL.



X-Factor:

Tonight the trio of Troy Bourke, Spencer Asuchak and Daulton Siwak will be looked upon to lead the charge offensively. These three had their moments in last night’s game, but were largely kept in check by the Royals defense. Bourke, Siwak and Asuchak are too skilled to be kept silent for long, and if they can break out in tonight’s game, the Cougars may very well head to Portland trailing the Royals by just two points instead of six.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Royals 4 - Cougars 2

Friday night in Victoria, the Prince George Cougars dropped a 4-2 score to the Victoria Royals in a fight-filled affair that saw five fights in the first 13 minutes. The Royals scored all four of their goals in the second period to help secure their victory.

The first period was wild. The Cougars and Royals combined for 88 penalty minutes and five fights. Cody Carlson, Jesse Forsberg, Dan Gibb, Greg Fraser and Reid Jackson all fought for Prince George. Cody Carlson was ejected from the game after he dropped the gloves with Robin Soudek of the Royals.

The Cougars opened the scoring at 13:59 of the first period when Caleb Belter came out of the penalty box and converted off a Ricard Blidstrand pass for his third of the year. Moments earlier the Cougars had killed off a five-on-three man advantage that lasted 1:52 for Victoria.

It was 1-0 for the visitors after one. The Cougars were outshot 9-4.

Victoria tied it at the 5:00 mark of the second. Brandon Magee buried his 20th of the season on a power play to put his team on the board. Steven Hodges then made it 2-1 after he capitalized off a terrible bounce in the Cougars end.

Jamie Crooks and Dakota Conroy would add goals for Victoria in the second-half of the period and took a 4-1 lead into the second period.

The Cougars were better in the third, and were rewarded for their efforts when Jake Mykitiuk followed up on a Jordan Tkatch rebound and scored his fifth of the season. The Cougars were given a late power play and had some chances, but were un-successful.

Victoria outshot the Cougars 26-20 and finished two-for-five on the power play. Prince George finished the game zero-for-seven on their power play opportunities.

With the win, the Victoria Royals improve their record to 18-34-2-4 and move four points ahead of the Cougars for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Cougars record now sits at 18-36-0-2 and they still hold two games in hand on Victoria.

These teams will meet again on Saturday night from the Save on Foods Memorial Centre.

Cougars - Royals Preview.

The Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals will meet twice this weekend and for both teams, the stakes couldn’t be higher. A win for the Cougars puts them into eighth place in the West. A win for Victoria and the Royals create some separation. Buckle up. It’s going to be a fun weekend.

VICTORIA ROYALS


Overview:

The Victoria Royals are coming into the weekend having lost five consecutive games. They are 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 and they hold a two-point edge on the Cougars for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Victoria Royals record currently sits at 17-34-2-4.



Who’s Up Front:

Jamie Crooks leads the Victoria Royals with 30 goals and 59 points through 57 games this season. Crooks has scored nine goals on the power play and has continued to provide the Royals with steady offense all season long.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Cougars will need to be mindful of 20-year-old Hayden Rintoul. The Royals captain has 42 points this season and leads all Royals with 11 power play goals.



Who’s in Goal:

The Royals are led by goaltender Keith Hamilton, who holds a record of 16-29-1-4 this season. His save percentage is .876 and he has goals against average of 4.29 this season. His backup is Prince George product Jared Rathjen.



X-Factor:

When these teams met at the end of January and into early February one of the noticeable players for Victoria was Ben Walker. The Minnesota product has 25 points in 31 games since joining Victoria and had four points against the Cougars in two games played.


PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS


Overview:

Dean Clark’s team is heading into this weekend having won two of their last three games. They are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10, and more importantly are just two points back of eighth place in the Western Conference standings.



Who’s Up Front:

Given the absence of Alex Forsberg, Spencer Asuchak stepped in and joined Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak on the Cougars top line on Wednesday, and the 20-year-old did not disappoint. Asuchak opened the scoring on the power play against Red Deer and now has 15 goals this season.



Who’s on D:

Cody Carlson recorded his eighth goal of the season on Wednesday, which proved to be the game winner. Carlson will no doubt be ready to go this weekend as the 20-year-old will have loads of family and friends on hand to watch him play in Victoria.



Who’s in Goal:

Drew Owsley was marvelous in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Red Deer making 38 saves on 39 shots faced. Owsley was acquired for weekends like this one, and you know that he’ll continue to give the Cougars every opportunity to win games.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars were one-for-two on the power play on Wednesday and will hope to build off of that success this weekend. When the Cougars score on the power play they tend to find success, and scoring the first goal of games also seems to help. The Cougars are 15-7-0-1 when they score first.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feb 15th Photos.



Jordan Tkatch




It Was a Big Night for Drew Owsley who made 38 saves.





Owsley Stops the Puck Through the Charles Inglis Screen.



*All Photos By: Julie Larson

Cougars Top the Rebels 3-1.

Wednesday night in Prince George, the Cougars defeated the Red Deer Rebels 3-1. Cody Carlson broke a 1-1 tie mid-way through the third period and Drew Owsley made 38 saves to help the Cougars earn their 18th victory of the season. The victory helps push the Cougars within two points of Victoria for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

The Cougars drew first blood at 4:38 of the first period on a power play. Deven Dubyk stopped Jesse Forsberg’s initial point shot, but Spencer Asuchak found the puck in front, and beat Dubyk for his 15th of the season, and the Cougars had the 1-0 lead.

Red Deer tied it at 12:32 when Cody Millette beat Drew Owsley on a backhand deke. The Rebels kept charging, but Drew Owsley was sharp stopping 16 of 17 shots faced in the first period.

It was more of the same in the second period. The Red Deer Rebels outshot Prince George 14-6, but Drew Owsley was rock-solid making several big-time saves. His biggest save came off of Tyson Ness after Owsley’s attempted clear came right out in front, and Owsley dove to get back before Ness could bury the puck. Red Deer had two power play opportunities but did not convert.

Mid-way through the third period the Cougars broke the game open when Cody Carlson converted off a Ricard Blidstrand pass. Carlson’s eighth of the season gave the Cougars the lead that they would not relinquish.

In the final minute of the third, Troy Bourke stole the puck from Mathew Dumba and buried his 10th into the empty net to give the Cougars the victory. Drew Owsley had 38 saves on 39 shots faced, and the Cougars were victorious.

Red Deer finished zero-for-two on the man advantage while the Cougars were one-for-two on their opportunities.

Prince George’s win coupled with Victoria’s loss to Calgary puts the Cougars within two points of the eight placed Victoria Royals with two games still in hand. The Cougars and Royals will meet this weekend for two games in Victoria starting on Friday at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cougars - Rebels Preview.

The Prince George Cougars and Red Deer Rebels will meet tonight at CN Centre for the first and only time this season. The Rebels and Cougars have met once earlier this season with the Rebels securing a 5-1 victory back on January 21st.




Overview:

The Red Deer Rebels are 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games. They enter tonight’s action with a 25-25-1-4 record and are six points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the eighth playoff spot in the East.



Who’s Up Front:

Leading the way offensively for Red Deer is 19-year-old Swede John Persson. The product of Mora, Sweden has 48 points through 54 games and is second on the team in goal scoring with 19. Persson is a big body who will need to be contained if the Cougars hope to secure two points at home.



Who’s on D:

When these teams met on January 21st in Red Deer, 17-year-old defenceman Mathew Dumba was a force. He had a goal and two assists and helped pace the Red Deer power play to a two-for-two finish on the evening. Dumba has all the tools to be a top-10 draft pick in the upcoming draft, and tonight the Cougars will need to be aware of his presence at both ends of the ice.



Who’s in Goal:

20-year-old goaltender Deven Dubyk stopped 32 of 33 shots that he faced on January 21st to earn the victory for Red Deer. Since joining the Rebels Dubyk has a record of 11-10-1-1 and a 2.85 goals against average.



X-Factor:

Rebels forward Charles Inglis will play his first game in Prince George since a December 29th trade that sent him to Red Deer in exchange for Daulton Siwak and a third rounder. Inglis has 18 points in 19 games since joining the Rebels. The Cougars did keep Inglis completely off of the score sheet when these teams met in late January.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars head into tonight’s game trailing the eighth placed Victoria Royals by four points in the Western Conference. The Cougars are 2-8-0-0 in their last 10 games, but are coming off a weekend split with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Cougars are 17-35-0-2 on the season.



Who’s Up Front:

Since joining the Prince George Cougars on December 29th, Daulton Siwak has recorded seven goals and 10 points in 18 games. Siwak scored twice and added an assist during Friday’s 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, and you know that he’ll want to play a strong game against his old team tonight.



Who’s on D:

19-year-old defenceman Dan Gibb returns to the lineup tonight for Prince George. Gibb has meant the world to the Cougars this season, and his presence will only further help the team’s depth and confidence. Gibb adds size, grit and a wealth of experience to the team’s blueline and you know that he’ll be excited to join his teammates in battle tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Cougars netminder Drew Owsley had a busy weekend against the Oil Kings, but he escaped the weekend with a 1-1 record and continues to battle for the Cougars. Cougars backup Devon Fordyce got the call for the Cougars on January 21st against Red Deer and stopped 30 of the 35 shots he faced.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars are due to break out on the power play. The Cougars have now gone six games in a row without a goal on the man-advantage, and if they can get that going tonight, the Cougars have a great chance to win. If the Cougars can score a goal or two on the man-advantage, it will certainly help their confidence before they hit the road for four games in the next six nights.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cougars Earn Weekend Split with Edmonton

The Prince George Cougars and Edmonton Oil Kings have split a weekend set in Prince George. Saturday at CN Centre, the Edmonton Oil Kings skated to a 5-0 victory over Prince George. Rhett Rachinski scored three times for Edmonton and Laurent Brossoit stopped 24 pucks for the shutout.

Edmonton opened the scoring at the 2:56 mark of the first period. Rhett Rachinski received a pass in the slot area and was able to put it past Drew Owsley for his 20th of the season.

After the first goal the Cougars seemed to gain some momentum back. Campbell Elynuik was stopped on a breakaway by Laurent Brossoit and the Cougars were denied on some other close opportunities.

Edmonton extended their lead to 2-0 when Rhett Rachinski converted on a two-on-one pass from Klarc Wilson. The Oil Kings outshot Prince George 13-9 after one period. The Oil Kings went zero-for-two on the power play in the first.

The score stayed 2-0 until the end of the second, when Henrik Samuelsson converted off a Keegan Lowe pass for his fifth of the season.

Early in the third the Oil Kings made it 4-0 when Kristians Pelss stole the puck from behind the Cougars goal and snuck it past Drew Owsley for his 19th of the campaign.

The final goal came in the final minute of play when Rhett Racinski found himself in alone on Drew Owsley, and beat the Cougars netminder with a spin-o-rama for his third of the night and 22nd of the season.

The Cougars were outshot 43-24 by Edmonton and finished zero-for-three on the power play. Edmonton finished the night zero-for-four.

In the end though, the Cougars can take several positives from the weekend. They managed to split with the Oil Kings, and were able to gain some ground on both Seattle and Victoria in the race for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The Cougars are now four points back of both Victoria and Seattle with two games in hand on the Royals and one in hand on Seattle.

Next up: The Red Deer Rebels on Wednesday night at CN Centre. Game time is 7:00.

Cougars - Oil Kings (Part Two.)

The Prince George Cougars and Edmonton Oil Kings will meet tonight for the final time this season. Last night the Prince George Cougars earned the 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings and inched a little closer to the top eight of the Western Conference. If last night’s game was any indication, we could be in for another thriller tonight.





Overview:

The Edmonton Oil Kings have gone four consecutive games without a regulation loss and are 7-1-2-0 in their last 10 games. The Oil Kings hold a five point lead on the Moose Jaw Warriors for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.



Who’s Up Front:

The Edmonton Oil Kings got a ton of offense from the usual suspects last night. Michael St. Croix led the way with two goals and a helper for Edmonton. St. Croix now has 87 points this season and sits tied for second in league scoring trailing both Ty Rattie and Mark Stone by one point.



Who’s on D:

One of the more impressive defenceman last night for Edmonton was 18-year-old defenceman Martin Gernat. Gernat was among only two Edmonton defenders who were ‘plus players’ last night. Gernat earned one assist and now has 41 points this season through 43 games.



Who’s in Goal:

The Oil Kings have received stellar goaltending this season from 18-year-old Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has a 31-10-2-3 record with two shutouts. He has a goals against average of 2.48 and a save percentage of .913. His backup Tristan Jarry got the call last night, and I’d expect Brossoit to be back between the pipes tonight for Edmonton.



X-Factor:

The Edmonton power play did some damage in the early stages of the third period last night. The Oil Kings went two-for-six overall on the power play, and showed how truly dangerous they are when they are given the opportunity with the extra attacker.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are coming into tonight’s game with a record of 17-34-0-2. They are 2-8-0-0 in their last 10 games and are four points back of both Seattle and Victoria in the race for the eighth playoff spot. The Cougars hold three games in hand on Victoria and one on the Seattle Thunderbirds.



Who’s Up Front:

What a night for Cougars forward Daulton Siwak. The 18-year-old from Olds, Alberta scored twice and added an assist for the Cougars and he is now just two goals shy of tying the team lead. Siwak and his linemates Alex Forsberg and Troy Bourke were lethal last night for the Cougars, and will need to do some more damage tonight if they hope for a sweep against Edmonton.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Cougars were led last night by their captain Jesse Forsberg. From the drop of the puck, Forsberg was ready. He was physical, patient, and confident and let his play do the talking. He didn’t register anything on the score sheet, but he was a constant thorn in the side of the Oil Kings, and he logged a ton of key minutes during the penalty kill.



Who’s in Goal:

After missing both games last weekend with a lower body injury, Drew Owsley returned to the lineup and was brilliant making 48 saves on 52 shots faced. Owsley has shown time and time again this season that when the Cougars supply him with enough offense that he can be a true difference maker. A similar effort from Owsley tonight and the Cougars could be looking at a sweep of one of the league’s top teams.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars have already earned a split with Edmonton this weekend. Through the eyes of many, this weekend is already a success. However the Cougars are still in need of points, and they will be the first to tell you that this weekend is far from over. The task at hand tonight is another two points, and nobody inside that locker room can afford to rest on their laurels and their accomplishments from last night. The main x-factor tonight for the Cougars centers around team discipline and team defense. If the Cougars can once again play to their strengths and keep the Oil Kings in check, they could very well end the weekend trailing a playoff spot by only two points.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cougars Crown the Oil Kings in O.T.

Friday in Prince George, the Cougars won a 5-4 overtime thriller with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Campbell Elynuik was the OT hero for the Cougars and Daulton Siwak had a three-point night for the Cougars who earned their 17th victory of the 2011-2012 season.

The Cougars opened the scoring at 3:18 of the first period when Alex Forsberg rifled a wrist-shot through Tristan Jarry for his 12th of the season. Troy Bourke and Daulton Siwak picked up assists.

The Cougars then killed off two Edmonton power plays, and came eerily close to making it 2-0 at the end of the first, but Greg Fraser was unable to convert on a two-on-one opportunity. Edmonton outshot the Cougars 16-10 after one.

The second period provided fans with more back-and-forth play. Both goaltenders (Drew Owsley and Tristan Jarry) were exceptional and the Cougars held on to their 1-0 lead until the tail-end of the period when Dylan Wruck beat Drew Owsley for his 19th of the season. It was an unlucky play for the Cougars as Wruck tried to center a pass, but the puck came right back to him on the rush.

Late in the period the Cougars got into some penalty trouble when Greg Fraser was called for a double-minor high sticking penalty. Early in the third the Oil Kings made the Cougars pay.

Michael St. Croix and Rhett Rachinski scored goals 1:14 apart to give the Oil Kings a quick 3-1 lead early in the third.

Credit the Cougars though for not backing down. They made it 3-2 when Chase Witala tipped home a Cody Carlson point shot for his fourth of the season, and then 40 seconds later Daulton Siwak converted on an Alex Forsberg pass to make it 3-3.

Back came Edmonton. Eight seconds after Siwak’s equalizer, the Oil Kings took a 4-3 lead when Michael St. Croix beat Drew Owsley for his second of the game.

The Cougars stayed resilient. Daulton Siwak tied the game (again) off a gorgeous pass from Jake Mykitiuk. Siwak raced by the defender and beat Tristan Jarry on a back-hand deke for his second of the night, and his 12th of the season to make it 4-4.

Overtime was needed and 2:14 into the extra frame Campbell Elynuik pounced on a loose puck in front of the Edmonton net, and beat Tristan Jarry for his fifth of the season.

For the Cougars it was their 17th victory of the season, and first this season against the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Cougars record now sits at 17-34-0-2.

Lost in the madness of the third period was the play of Cougars netminder Drew Owsley, who faced 52 shots in total and stopped 48 of them. Edmonton finished two-for-six on the power play while the Cougars finished zero-for-two.

Daulton Siwak finished the game with three points and was named the game’s first star. Alex Forsberg, Troy Bourke, Cody Carlson, and Chase Witala all recorded multi-point games for the Cougars who are now four points back of both Victoria and Seattle in the Western Conference standings. The Cougars still hold three games in hand on Victoria and one on Seattle.

The Cougars will look for the weekend sweep when they host Edmonton again on Saturday.

Cougars - 0il Kings Preview

The Prince George Cougars and Edmonton Oil Kings will meet tonight and tomorrow night at CN Centre. Tonight’s game marks the second of three meetings between these clubs. The Cougars are hoping to snap a three-game skid, and are hoping to make some noise against the top team in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.



Overview:

The Edmonton Oil Kings have won three in a row and are 7-2-1-0 in their last 10 games. The Oil Kings are coming off a 9-5 victory in Calgary on Wednesday and have scored the most goals out of any team in the Western Hockey League with 235. The Oil Kings are 36-12-2-4 and are six points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors for top spot in the East.



Who’s Up Front:

The Edmonton Oil Kings boast some of the strongest depth in the Western Hockey League. They have four lines that can hurt you, and they tend to come at teams in waves. Leading the charge for Edmonton back on January 18th was Michael St. Croix. St. Croix recorded a natural hat-trick against the Cougars and is currently fifth in league scoring with 84 points.



Who’s on D:

18-year-old Martin Gernat leads the Oil Kings with 40 points through 42 games this season. Gernat eight goals and 32 assists and is a major threat on the Oil Kings power play. Gernat had three assists against the Cougars during their last meeting on January 18th.



Who’s in Goal:

The Oil Kings have received stellar goaltending this season from 18-year-old Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has a 31-10-2-3 record with two shutouts. He has a goals against average of 2.48 and a save percentage of .913. His backup is 16-year-old Tristan Jarry who holds a record of 5-2.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars will need to stay as disciplined as possible this weekend against the Oil Kings. Edmonton’s power play struck twice in three opportunities during the last meeting between these teams, and they hold the league’s second best power play with a success rate of 27.5%.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are coming into tonight’s game with a record of 16-34-0-2. They are 2-8-0-0 in their last 10 games and are six points back of both Seattle and Victoria in the race for the eighth playoff spot. The Cougars hold four games in hand on Victoria and one on the Seattle Thunderbirds.



Who’s Up Front:

After battling injuries seemingly since the start of 2012, the Cougars will have some key bodies back in the lineup up front. 16-year-old Alex Forsberg is ready to go along with veteran forward Caleb Belter who has missed significant time as well. Jarrett Fontaine and Linden Springer are also expected back which gives Dean Clark and his staff several more options as far as the forwards go.



Who’s on D:

Defensively the Cougars are going to need all hands on deck this weekend against Edmonton. With the status of Dan Gibb and Reid Jackson still up in the air, the Cougars will need the likes of Cody Carlson, Jesse Forsberg, Ricard Blidstrand, and Michael Mylchreest to log some key minutes. The Oil Kings are a tough team to stop, but with great challenge comes great opportunity for the Cougars.



Who’s in Goal:

After missing both games last weekend with a lower body injury, Drew Owsley should be ready to go this weekend for the Cougars. Owsley has only played once so far in February, and will look to step back in and give the Cougars everything he has against the Oil Kings. Devon Fordyce showed signs of brilliance against Kelowna last weekend and stopped 72 of the 78 shots he faced. He’ll no doubt be ready if called upon.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars have started games very well as of late and that trend will need to continue against the Oil Kings. The Cougars have shown that they are a tough team to play against when they hold the lead, and an early goal or two would no doubt help with their confidence and would give the Oil Kings something to think about. The Cougars have shown this season that they can go head-to-head with the league’s best and be successful and this weekend will provide the Cougars with another opportunity to do just that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Breaking Down the Numbers.

The Prince George Cougars have 20 games remaining in their regular season. With that in mind, the Cougars are still knocking on the door of a playoff spot and are one of four teams currently jostling for the final two spots in the Western Conference. The Cougars along with the Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds and Victoria Royals are all vying for those spots, and the next two months are going to be very telling.

To give you some more perspective, I have crunched some numbers and provided some insight into what the final two months look like for the four above-mentioned teams. Hopefully by looking into these reports you’ll give yourself a better idea of what lies ahead for these teams down the stretch.

VICTORIA ROYALS

Record: 17-32-2-4

Home Record: 10-13-1-2

Away Record: 7-19-1-2

Record Against Prince George: 3-1-0-0

Overall Record Against Remaining Opponents (2011-2012): 10-18-0-3 (31%)

Division Rank: Fourth

Conference Rank: Seventh

Games Played: 55 (Cougars hold three games in hand)

Games Remaining: 17

Games Remaining Against Prince George: 4

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Remaining Schedule:

Feb 8th vs. Everett

Feb 15 vs. Calgary

Feb 17 vs. Prince George

Feb 18 vs. Prince George

Feb 22 @ Kamloops

Feb 24 @ Prince George

Feb 25 @ Prince George

Feb 28 vs. Spokane

Feb 29 vs. Spokane

March 3 vs. Vancouver

March 4 vs. Vancouver

March 7 @ Everett

March 9 @ Kelowna

March 10 @ Everett

March 11 @ Vancouver

March 14 vs. Portland

March 16 vs. Portland

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Games at home: 10 of 17

Games on the road: 7 of 17

Games against Cougars: 4 (8 available points)

Games against teams above them in the standings: 10 of 17

Games against teams below them in the standings: 7 of 17.



Injuries

#3, Zach Habscheid, Lower body, 1 month+



SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS:



Record: 18-32-1-1

Home Record: 10-15-0-1

Away Record: 8-17-1-0

Record Against Prince George: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record Against Remaining Opponents (2011-2012): 7-20-1-0 (25%)

Division Rank: Fourth

Conference Rank: Eighth

Games Played: 52 (Cougars have played same number of games)

Games Remaining: 20

Games Remaining Against Prince George: 2

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Remaining Schedule:



Feb 8 @ Kelowna

Feb 10 @ Spokane

Feb 11 vs. Portland

Feb 14 vs. Kelowna

Feb 17 vs. Tri City

Feb 18 @ Portland

Feb 19 vs. Spokane

Feb 25 vs. Everett

Feb 26 vs. Tri City

Feb 28 @ Tri City

March 2 @ Everett

March 3 @ Portland

March 6 @ Prince George

March 7 @ Prince George

March 10 vs. Portland

March 11 vs. Everett

March 13 vs. Spokane

March 16 @ Spokane

March 17 vs. Everett

March @ Portland

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Games at home: 10 of 20

Games on the road: 10 of 20

Games against Cougars: 2 (4 available points)

Games against teams above them in the standings: 14 of 20

Games against teams below them in the standings: 6 of 20



EVERETT SILVERTIPS:



Record: 13-31-1-8

Home Record: 7-15-0-4

Away Record: 6-16-1-4

Record Against Prince George: 1-3-0-0

Overall Record Against Remaining Opponents (2011-2012): 7-13-0-7 (19%)

Division Rank: Fifth

Conference Rank: Ninth

Games Played: 53 (Cougars have one game in hand)

Games Remaining: 19

Games Remaining Against Prince George: 0

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Remaining Schedule:



Feb 8 @ Victoria

Feb 10 @ Vancouver

Feb 11 vs. Vancouver

Feb 17 vs. Portland

Feb 18 vs. Vancouver

Feb 21 @ Tri City

Feb 24 @ Tri City

Feb 25 @ Seattle

Feb 26 vs. Portland

Feb 29 vs. Kamloops

Mar 2 vs. Seattle

Mar 3 vs. Tri City

Mar 7 vs. Victoria

Mar 9 vs. Portland

Mar 10 vs. Victoria

Mar 11 vs. Seattle

Mar 14 @ Kelowna

Mar 16 @ Tri City

Mar 17 @ Seattle

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Games at home: 11 of 19

Games on the road: 8 of 19

Games against Cougars: 0 (0 available points)

Games against teams above them in the standings: 19 of 19

Games against teams below them in the standings: 0 of 19



Injuries

#8, Ryan Chynoweth, Upper body, day to day

#9, J.T Barnett, Lower body, week to week

#19, Manraj Hayer, Upper body, day to day

#24, Zach McPhee, Upper body, week to week

Suspensions #5, Brennan Yadlowski, 10 games remain



PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS:

Record: 16-34-0-2

Home Record: 6-17-0-1

Away Record: 10-17-0-1

Overall Record Against Remaining Opponents (2011-2012): 9-18-0-1 (32%)

Division Rank: Fifth

Conference Rank: Tenth

Games Played: 52

Games Remaining: 20

---------

Remaining Schedule:

Feb 10 vs. Edmonton

Feb 11 vs. Edmonton

Feb 15 vs. Red Deer

Feb 17 @ Victoria

Feb 18 @ Victoria

Feb 20 @ Portland

Feb 21 @ Portland

Feb 24 vs. Victoria

Feb 25 vs. Victoria

Feb 28 vs. Medicine Hat

Feb 29 vs. Medicine Hat

Mar 2 vs. Spokane

Mar 3 vs. Spokane

Mar 6 vs. Seattle

Mar 7 vs. Seattle

Mar 10 @ Kelowna

Mar 11 @ Tri City

Mar 13 @ Tri City

Mar 16 @ Kamloops

Mar 17 vs. Kamloops

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Games at home: 12 of 20

Games on the road: 8 of 20

Games against teams above them in the standings: 20 of 20

Games against teams below them in the standings: 0 of 20



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As you can see there are some very telling numbers that could definitely affect the stretch-run for these teams.



The following stats favour the Cougars:

- They have the highest winning percentage (32%) of any of the four mentioned teams against their remaining opponents. The Cougars have won nine of the 28 games so far against the teams that they face between now and March 17th.

- The Cougars play more games at home than any other team mentioned in this article.





Some food for thought as you get set for the stretch drive of the Western Hockey League regular season.



Enjoy!

Troy Bourke Featured in 2012 Draft Blog.

As most Cougars fans are surely aware, 2012 is the draft-year for Cougars leading scorer Troy Bourke. Click HERE to read Coming Down the Pipe's feature on Troy Bourke.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rockets 4 - Cougars 1

Saturday night in Prince George, the Cougars were defeated 4-1 by the Kelowna Rockets. Mid-way through the second period, Kelowna scored twice in a 35-second span to break a 1-1 tie. Shane McColgan had a goal and two assists for the visitors while Daulton Siwak scored for the Cougars in the loss.

Kelowna came out buzzing early, but the Cougars were able to weather the early storm. The Rockets held a 5-1 edge in the shots department early, but Cougars netminder Devon Fordyce stood tall and soon the Cougars went to work offensively.

They moved the puck around quickly on their first power play and came close twice, but were unable to convert.

Late in the first, Kelowna took the lead when Shane McColgan scored on the power play. It was some tough luck for the Cougars defensively who did everything possible to stop the charge. Spencer Asuchak blocked one shot, and then Jordan Tkatch blocked another. Unfortunately Tkatch’s stick shattered on the play, and McColgan was able move by him and score.

Kelowna led 1-0 after one, and outshot the Cougars 11-8.

Early in the second period the Cougars continued to buzz. Their passes were crisp and they were getting good looks at the net, and were finally rewarded at 7:23 when Daulton Siwak jumped onto the puck along the right wing and blasted a shot past Adam Brown for his 10th of the year. Siwak has now scored five goals since he arrived to Prince George in a trade from Red Deer on December 29th.

Mid-way through the second period the Rockets regained the lead when Austin Ferguson found Tyrell Goulbourne in the slot-area. Goulbourne was able to beat Devon Fordyce for his sixth of the season, and Kelowna led 2-1.

35 seconds later the Rockets added to their lead when Myles Bell put a shot on goal from the right wing boards. The puck found its way past Devon Fordyce and Bell had his 10th of the season.

Carty Rigby would make it 4-1 for Kelowna on a late second period power play when he converted on a pass from Colton Sissons. Rigby’s 14th gave Kelowna the 4-1 lead that they would not relinquish.

Devon Fordyce stood tall in the third period for the Cougars. He faced 17 shots and stopped them all, and finished the night with 45 saves on 49 shots faced.

Kelowna finished the night two-for-five on the power play while the Cougars were zero-for-two on their opportunities.

The Cougars don’t play again until Friday, February 10th when they host the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Cougars - Rockets Part Two.

The Prince George Cougars and Kelowna Rockets are back at it again tonight at CN Centre. Last night the Rockets earned the 2-1 victory and while the Cougars can take several positives from the game, the result will leave them wanting and needing more this evening.





Overview:

The Kelowna Rockets come into tonight’s game 12 points ahead of Victoria for sixth in the Western Conference. The Rockets trail Vancouver by 11 points in the race for fifth place in the Western Conference. Kelowna is 23-23-2-4 and are 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games.



Who’s Up Front:

When the Rockets needed a big goal last night, Shane McColgan was there. The 18-year-old forward leads the Rockets in scoring with 50 points in 51 games, and his 14th of the year last night proved to be the game winner. McColgan skates very well, and is tough to knock off the puck.



Who’s on D:

17-year-old Damon Severson recently represented the Rockets at the CHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna and last night he showed why he belonged there. It was Severson’s pass from the left-point to the right-wing that led to McColgan’s game winner. Severson has 23 points in the season and is only two back of Myles Bell for the team lead in scoring for defencemen.



Who’s in Goal:

The Prince George Cougars have seen Adam Brown an awful lot this season already, and Brown has been very difficult to solve through the past six games. Brown stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced in last night’s game and many of them were tough stops to make. If Brown gets the nod again tonight it will be the seventh start of the season for him against Prince George. His backup is also very capable. Jordan Cooke comes into tonight’s game with a 6-5-2-2 record and a saver percentage of .915.



X-Factor:

The Kelowna Rockets can thank their penalty-kill for some of last night’s success. The Rockets held the Cougars scoreless on five power play attempts and did a great job (especially late) at limiting the Cougars opportunities. Tonight discipline and defence will be two keys for the Rockets success.





Overview:

The Prince George Cougars are heading into their fourth game in five nights, and are looking to split those four games with a victory tonight. The Cougars are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games, and did not lose any ground on the eighth placed Seattle Thunderbirds last night. Two points tonight would help the Cougars confidence as they head into next week with two matchups lined up with the Edmonton Oil Kings.



Who’s Up Front:

Spencer Asuchak is playing some of his best hockey as of late. The 20-year-old had the lone goal for Prince George in last night’s game, and now leads the team with 14 on the year. Asuchak is skating well, using his body to create plays and looked strong through all three periods of last night’s game with the Rockets.



Who’s on D:

Even without the services of Dan Gibb and Reid Jackson, the defense for the Cougars last night was strong and made very few mistakes. Cody Carlson, Jesse Forsberg and Ricard Blidstrand logged a ton of ice-time and led the charge in a big way for Prince George. Cody Carlson leads the Cougars with 30 points from the back-end, and is the only Cougar to have played in all 51 games so far this season. I expect another similar effort from Carlson and his fellow defencemen tonight.



Who’s in Goal:

Devon Fordyce got the call in last night’s game and played well. Admittedly he might want the first goal back, but Fordyce did not seem to let that one weigh him down. He was square to the puck, made some nice gloves saves and was not shy about playing the puck as well. These are all encouraging signs for the Cougars who may need to rely on Fordyce once again tonight depending on the status of Drew Owsley. Devon Fordyce is 1-6-0-1 on the season with an .861 save percentage.



X-Factor:

The Prince George Cougars are two-for-thirty this season on the power play against Kelowna. The Rockets have not been shy about taking penalties, and tonight the Cougars will need to try and find a way to convert when they have the extra man. The Cougars need to be commended for how disciplined they have been against the Rockets, and tonight if they can find a way to capitalize on their power play, they’re going to have a great shot at winning tonight’s game.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rockets 2 - Cougars 1

Friday night in Prince George, the Cougars fell 2-1 to the Kelowna Rockets. Shane McColgan broke a 1-1 tie with his 14th of the season mid-way through the third period to give Kelowna the win. The Cougars put forth a strong 60-minute effort, but dropped their third one-goal game this season to Kelowna.

The first period resulted in no goals for either squad, but the Cougars certainly had lots of jump. The Cougars outshot Kelowna 11-7 and had some quality chances on Adam Brown that they simply could not convert on. Devon Fordyce was strong at the other end stopping all seven shots he faced in the opening stanza.

Early in the second period Kelowna caught a break when Cody Chikie went wide on the defense and put a shot on goal that hand-cuffed Devon Fordyce. For Chikie it was his 13th of the season and the Rockets led 1-0.

Prince George kept coming though, and would have tied it if not for two shots that went off the goal-post. The home team proved through 40 minutes that they weren’t going to go down easy, and early in the third period they found some offensive life.

Dean Clark put Greg Fraser, Troy Bourke and Spencer Asuchak together for the third period, and the trio of veteran forwards did their part to even the score. Linden Springer’s point-shot was stopped but Spencer Asuchak made no mistake on the rebound for his team-leading 14th goal of the season, and the Cougars were tied 1-1.

After some back-and-forth play the Kelowna Rockets took the game’s final lead when Damon Severson found Shane McColgan on a back-door pass. McColgan made no mistake for his 14th of the season – Which ultimately sealed the deal for the Cougars. The Cats came close a few more times in the third, but Rockets netminder Adam Brown stood his ground to keep the game at 2-1.

Special-teams hurt the Cougars as well who were zero-for-five on their power plays while Kelowna went zero-for-one at the other end. Kelowna outshot Prince George 29-27.

Kelowna improved their record to 23-23-2-4 on the season while the Cougars fall to 16-33-0-2. Luckily the Cougars didn’t lose any ground on eighth placed Seattle who dropped 4-1 score to the Tri City Americans on Friday.

The Cougars and Rockets will meet again on Saturday night from CN Centre.

Dropping the Gloves - Jarrett Fontaine

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