Heading into the final weekend of preseason play, the Prince George Cougars are 4-0 and looking to wrap up their preseason on a winning note.
Front and center in the team's preseason success has been 16-year-old rookie Jansen Harkins. Harkins is tied for the WHL lead in preseason scoring with nine points though four games. Hear from Harkins below:
19-year-old Brett Roulston has done everything asked of him to this point of the preseason. He's scored goals, he's fought, and even dawned the 'A' on his jersey for a few preseason games.
And yesterday the Cougars made a trade to acquire a defenceman. 20-year-old blueliner Peter Kosterman has played 234 games with the Calgary Hitmen, and will now spend his final season in the WHL in Prince George as a member of the Cougars.
Earlier this morning, Team SETOGUCHI skated to a 6-1 victory over Team TYRELL. Jansen Harkins and Kody McDonald combined for three goals and eight points in the victory. Hear from Harkins, McDonald and defenceman Tate Olson below:
- Back at the rink and all set for the fifth scrimmage of camp. This one features team CHARA and team DRAZENOVIC.
- CHARA strikes first. Darren Hards found defenceman Braden Ruff pinching from the right point. Ruff took the past and wired a shot past Matt Kustra. A very pretty play.
- DRAZENOVIC answers with a nice tick-tac-toe passing sequence started by Cameron Shorrock. Shorrock found Brad Morrison who then slid a perfect pass to Josh Curtis. Curtis skated in alone and made no mistake, beating goaltender Jackson Granrude.
- Josh Anderson has gotten progressively better as camp has gone on. He did a great job to break up a rush at one end, and then he used his smarts and speed to join a rush heading the other way. Anderson took the pass on a two-on-one but was robbed by Matt Kustra. Still 1-1 with four minutes to go in the first period.
- Very early into the second period, Team MASON has scored twice in about a 40 second span. First it was Zach Gonek taking a point shot that deflected in off a HUNTER defender and in for a 2-2 score. Chase Witala then buried a backhander to make the game 3-2 for MASON. Zach Gonek and Joe Carvalho assisted on Witala's first of the camp.
- Alex Forsberg pots his third of the weekend off the rush. Marc McNulty and Klarc Wilson draw assists on the goal. Forsberg seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and it definitely showed on that play there.
- Jordan Tkatch and Austin Ferguson get into a skirmish after a whistle and dropped the gloves. Not a lot of punches thrown, but good to see Tkatch standing up for himself and his teammates.
- Joe Carvalho wins a race to a loose puck and buries one past the goaltender to make it 5-2 for MASON. Alex Forsberg and Klarc Wilson draw the helpers. Alex Forsberg is +5 so far today.
- Troy Bourke helps bridge the gap to 5-3 as he strikes for Team HUNTER. Bourke's first of the weekend. But man has he looked poised.
- Kyler Wilkinson makes it 6-3 for MASON with his second goal of the weekend. Off the next faceoff, Sam Ruopp and Michael Mylchreest squared off in a fight, which I'd classify a draw. Great intensity this afternoon from both sides.
- Zach Pochiro makes it 6-4 off a two-on-one rush with Troy Bourke. Seconds later he then gets another breakaway but this time he's turned away by goaltender Travis Ridgen.
- David Soltes scores the final goal of the game to make it 7-4 for Team MASON.
1) Alex Forsberg (MASON)
2) Joe Carvalho (MASON)
3) Zach Pochiro (HUNTER)
- Martin Bobos' equipment has arrived and this afternoon he'll join his teammates on the ice for the first time. It didn't take him long to make his presence felt as he and fellow countryman David Soltes collided along the wall. The 6'6, 237 pound Bobos with the biggest check of the game so far. His movement is good, and he hasn't shown any signs of rust yet. We've already coined the term, "Bobo Cop"
- Brett Zarowny turns aside a two-on-one shot from Klarc Wilson. There continues to be a good flow and pace to this game so far. Both teams want it bad.
- Carson Bolduc gets the ball rolling offensively with a goal from the slot. Goal was unassisted as he won the puck free from a MASON defender. 1-0 for HUNTER.
- Tre Potskin's legend continues to grow. He and Zach Gonek just went toe-to-toe in a very spirited fight. Potskin scored the take down, but Gonek landed a flurry of uppercuts. This is fun.
- Alex Forsberg ties the game at one with a shot from the right wall that deflects in off of a HUNTER defenceman. Alex Forsberg becomes the first player at Cougars camp to score two goals.
- Late in the first, Zach Pochiro notches his second of the weekend off a nice feed from Gregory Johnson. Pochiro is playing with a lot of poise and confidence, and could do some big things this season. 2-1 the score after 30 minutes.
Between periods I had the chance to catch up with Prince George Cougars northern scout Bryan MacLean, who is also the head coach of the Cariboo Cougars Major Midget team in PG.
- Notable intensity to start the second period, and some tough saves at both ends. Kye Steinke has had his hands full early, but has turned aside some good opportunities from Brad Morrison and Kolby Johnson. Matt Kustra has been no slouch at the other end, stopping Jansen Harkins and Aaron Boyd.
- Cole Williams has really stood out positively for Team BYFUGLIEN. For a second straight game he's played with an edge, and has moved the puck well. The Cougars do have a need for right-handed defenceman moving forward, and Williams has shown that he's capable physically.
- Jansen Harkins and Kody McDonald have combined to give BYFUGLIEN the lead. Harkins made a great play to take the puck wide on the defender, and then centered it to the waiting McDonald who snuck it past Matt Kustra. 2-1 game with eight minutes left.
- Curtis Brown seals the deal with an empty-netter late. 3-1 final for Team BYFUGLIEN.
- Team BYFUGLIEN in Blue, Team DRAZENOVIC in Black. This is the first game for DRAZENOVIC at camp. Notable DRAZENOVIC players include: Brad Morrison, Tate Olson, Kolby Johnson, Matt Kustra, and Shane Collins.
- Blaze Bezecki makes it 1-0 for DRAZENOVIC off a nice pass from Josh Curtis.
- The first standout for me so far is Brad Morrison of Team DRAZENOVIC. Every shift he has shown some excellent vision, terrific speed, and is making his teammates around him better. Morrison could score a lot of goals in this league, and what's equally impressive is that he wants to set up his teammates as well.
- So far, so good for Matt Kustra in goal for DRAZENOVIC. He made a terrific save from point-blank range off of Joseph Nardi to keep the score at 1-0 for his team.
- Jake Schnack forces a steal along the right wing wall and then roofs one over the shoulder of Matt Kustra to make it a 1-1 game. Good pace and physicality to this one so far. Three minutes left in the first.
- First period comes to end. 1-1 tie. We've had some low scoring games so far this weekend.
Alex Forsberg wasted little time making a strong impression during Day One of Prince George Cougars training camp. it's been a difficult handful of months for Alex Forsberg, but he's back in Prince George ready to turn the page, and establish himself as a marquee talent in the WHL.
Klarc Wilson had a Gordie Howe Hat-Trick during MASON's 4-3 come-from-behind win last night. He has one final kick at the can in the WHL, and he hopes to make it count.
- 3-1 HUNTER leading MASON as we get cracking on the second period. 30 minutes in length without a continuous clock.
- David Soltes is making a strong case for himself in his first appearance. His foot speed is strong, as is his positioning. He doesn't shy away from physicality either.
- Mac Engel made a phenomenal save off of Chase Witala from in close, and seconds earlier he turned aside David Soltes' backhand chance.
- Alex Forsberg gets MASON a little closer after he puts home a pass from Chase Witala. Chase Witala, Klarc Wilson and Alex Forsberg have looked very strong together. 3-2 HUNTER leads MASON with six minutes left.
- Mac Engel makes a dynamite save off of Rylan Yaremko from the point, but gets a bad break when a point shot from Kyler Wilkinson deflects off one of his teammates and in. 3-3 is the score with two minutes left.
- Shootout time. Three shooters each.
- Team MASON wins in the fifth shootout round. Kyler Wilkinson nets the winner. Ty Edmonds stops Tre Potskin on the final shot.
4-3 final in the shootout for Team MASON.
1) Klarc Wilson (MASON)
2) Alex Forsberg (MASON)
3) Tre Potskin (HUNTER)
- Time for the vets to strut their stuff. Team HUNTER vs. Team MASON.
- Brett Zarowny is in goal for Team HUNTER while Travis Ridgen is in net for Team MASON.
- Tre Potskin makes it 1-0 for Team HUNTER off a nice feed off the rush from Zach Pochiro.
- Brett Roulston then adds to Team HUNTER'S lead with a spin-and-shoot move from the slot. Roulston has a great shot, and could score a lot of goals with it if given the opportunity. A bit of a streaky season last year, but he off to a good start tonight.
- Brett Zarowny makes a terrific save off of Jake Mykitiuk who was set up nicely by David Soltes. My first look ever at Soltes and so far there's little to complain about.
- Alex Forsberg and Klarc Wilson combine on a beauty to put Team MASON on the board. Forsberg showed great patience behind the net to draw the defender, and then Klarc Wilson went to the front of the goal and converted his pass for a 2-1 HUNTER lead.
- Zach Pochiro makes it 3-1 for Team HUNTER with a coast-to-coast rush that ended with a wrist-shot through traffic that snuck past the goaltender. Pochiro's confidence has to be riding high after being selected in the fourth round in the NHL Draft by St. Louis.
- 1-0 for CHARA as we head into the second period, which is only going to be 25 minutes. So far the studs of this game have been: Tavin Grant (goalie, CHARA), Mike Regush (forward, CHARA), Jansen Harkins (forward, BYFUGLIEN) and Kody McDonald (forward, BYFUGLIEN).
- Make that 2-0 for CHARA as Mike Regush made a great move by the defenseman to get a shot on goal. The original shot was stopped, but Ethan Waitzner pounced on the rebound and buried it to give his team the two-goal lead. Regush has done a lot of good things in this game so far.
- Tremendous hustle by Jansen Harkins to win a race for a loose puck against a defender who was well ahead of him. He got by him, then made his way past the poke-checking goaltender Jackson Granrude and potted the first goal of the game for Team BYFUGLIEN.
- Game over. Not enough time left for BYFUGLIEN to mount a further comeback.
- Team Chara and Team Byfuglien getting set for the first scrimmage of the Prince George Cougars Training Camp. Team Chara features Prince George Cougars first round draft pick Josh Anderson (third overall, 2013). Other notable names include 2012 draft picks: Stephen Wack and Ethan Waitzner.
- Team Byfuglien includes Jansen Harkins, who was selected by the Cougars second overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. In addition to Harkins, team Byfuglien includes Kody McDonald (1998, round two of 2013 WHL Bantam Draft), Aaron Boyd (Round Two, 2012) and Trevor Sundher, who is the younger cousin of Buffalo Sabres prospect, Kevin Sundher.
- An early collision between Kody McDonald (Blue) and Josh Anderson (White), both of whom were selected by the Cougars in the 2013 Draft. Anderson third overall, McDonald 24th. McDonald showing some good strength, knocking down Anderson who was chasing down a puck in his own zone.
- Stephen Wack forces a turnover, and capitalizes off of it. He snuck in from the left side, and beat goaltender Kye Steinke low to the glove side. 1-0 Team Chara. Wack's goal unassisted.
- The first thing that I notice about Jansen Harkins (Blue) is the fact that he simply does not give up on the puck. Even if he's checked, he never gives up.
- This is a big camp for 16-year-old forward Aaron Boyd (Blue). He's got a lot of tools, and his size is a definite asset. He just made an excellent backhand pass through traffic that connected with Tristan Gavin. Gavin was denied on the breakaway by Tavin Grant, but a nice play created by Boyd.
- Mike Regush (White) with a really nice inside-out move skating down the right wing. He put a low, hard shot on goal that Steinke was able to stop. Regush is a 1998-born player who's 5'11, and 178 pounds.
- Jansen Harkins and Kody McDonald raced in two-on-one against Tavin Grant, who had to sprawl to his right to stop McDonald's one-timer. So far Grant has looked good, stopping everything he's faced.
- A remarkable save made again by Tavin Grant as he turned aside a rebound chance from Jake Schnack. After 30 minutes it's 1-0 for Team Chara and Grant had a lot to do with that score.
Prince George Cougars training camp is finally upon us, and for a third straight season I am all geared up and ready to continue with my broadcasting, media relations and corporate sales duties with the Cougars.
I started the Cougar Town blog at my very first Cougars camp, and after an extremely long hiadus, I've decided to blow the dust off, and bring back the blog for Training Camp.
Here you'll find as much up-to-date info as possible about the Prince George Cougars training camp. My hope is to provide some live blogging updates from the scrimmages, interviews and some food for thought for Cougars fans, parents and other fans of the WHL who decide to stop by.
Over the course of the next few weeks I'm going to address a series of burning questions surrounding the Prince George Cougars as they get set for the 2013-2014. There are many storylines to discuss, and a lot to dissect.
Registration is underway. I love this time of year.
Before last night's game against Red Deer, Cougars head coach Mark Holick and goaltender Mac Engel helped tee up the matchup.
The Cougars would eventually outshoot the Rebels 53-31, but would lose 4-3 in a shootout. That said, the Cougars have earned points in four straight games at home, and will head into the weekend with Vancouver just three points out of eighth place, with 18 games remaining in the regular season.