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October 28, 2017 12:46 am

Cougars Set to Host T-Birds

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 @ 12:30 PM

What you see is what you get! In the case of the Prince George Cougars that is not a bad thing in the least as the 2016 WHL Trade Deadline came and went without any movement whatsoever from the Prince George Cougars who made most of their impactful moves in the summer of 2015 or in the early months of the 2015-16 season. Was there potential for a move or two? Perhaps. But Todd Harkins, Mark Holick, the Prince George Cougars coaching staff and the ownership all agree that this group is capable of accomplishing some big things and it wasn’t worth ‘selling the farm’ for temporary help this season. Tonight, the Cougars will take the ice for the third game of a four game home stand when they welcome the Seattle Thunderbirds to town for the first of back-to-back games. Both of these games will be ‘games in hand’ for the Cougars as they try and claw closer and eventually surpass the Royals in the race for second place in the B.C. Division in order to do that they’ll need to defeat a Seattle team that hasn’t lost in Prince George since September, 2012.



Steve Konowalchuk’s Seattle Thunderbirds are coming into tonight’s game riding a two game winning streak. Overall the T-Birds are 22-14-3-0 and are four points back of the Everett Silvertips for top spot in the US Division. In their past 10 games, Seattle is 4-5-1-0 and in two previous meetings against the Cougars this season, the T-Birds are 1-1. Despite the T-Birds struggles against Prince George at home they are 6-2 against the Cougars at CN Centre dating back to 2011.

Who’s Up Front:

The Seattle Thunderbirds can score. This much is true. Leading the way for Seattle is New York Islanders first rounder Mathew Barzal who with 11 goals and 45 points leads all Seattle scorers despite only dressing in 27 games this season. Barzal’s vision is elite and he’s got some great help beside him as both Ryan Gropp (NY Rangers) and Keegan Kolesar (Columbus Blue Jackets) have both scored 18 goals this season. Any success against Seattle this week would mean keeping the above three players in check offensively.

Who’s on D:

Offensively defencemen like Joe Hicketts and Travis Sanheim get a ton of recognition and rightfully so, yet Seattle T-Birds third year defenceman Ethan Bear has already established a new career year offensively with 40 points in 39 games this season. His 12 goal total puts him one shy from matching his total from last season, and the Edmonton Oilers prospect is a +6 and has scored an astounding eight power play goals, two of which came against the Cougars back on December 15th. Discipline is going to be a major key for the Cougars as they’ll need to keep the likes of Bear, Barzal, Gropp and Kolesar to five-on-five or worse.

Who’s in Goal:

In the days leading up to the deadline, the Seattle Thunderbirds were busy, and perhaps their most significant trade saw them land veteran 20-year-old goaltender Landon Bow from the Swift Current Broncos. Bow is 2-0 in a Seattle uniform and has a goals-against-average of 1.49 and a save percentage of over .940. On the season, Bow 11-14-4-0 with a .914 save percentage – Which isn’t half bad considering the struggles of the Swift Current Broncos, his former team. His backup goaltender is Logan Flodell who is 1-1 against the Cougars this season.


The team that controls the play down low will win tonight. Both teams are rich in offense, have terrific goaltending and defense that aren’t afraid to jump up in the play to help make things happen defensively. I know that it’s clichéd but Seattle’s players need to be their best players and the message at the other end for the Cougars is going to be the same. The T-Birds are 8-11-1-0 on the road, which doesn’t quite rival their 14-3-2-0 record at home, but as was mentioned earlier, Seattle has had some extended success in Prince George, which should help their confidence tonight.



Mark Holick’s Prince George Cougars are coming into tonight’s game with an overall record of 25-15-1-1. Their 52 points puts them just two points shy of second place in the B.C. Division with two games in hand on Victoria. One of those games in hand will be tonight as the Cougars look to improve upon their recent stretch where they’ve gone an even 5-5 in their past 10 games. So far this season the Cougars are 1-1 against the Thunderbirds. The last time these two teams met was in Seattle on December 15th when the Cougars earned a 6-2 victory at ShoWare Center. A win tonight for Prince George would give them their first victory against Seattle at home since their home opener in September, 2012.

Who’s Up Front:

Over his past six games, Cougars forward Jesse Gabrielle has scored seven times giving him 27 goals on the season. Not only has Gabrielle reached a new career high for goals in a WHL season surpassing his 23 from a season ago, but he currently finds him a three-way tie atop the entire league for goals alongside Swift Current’s Jon Martin and Moose Jaw’s Dryden Hunt. Gabrielle has scored 17 of his 27 goals at home and leads all Cougars with three goals and four points in two games this season against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Who’s On D:

Defensively the Cougars are going to have their hands full tonight. The Thunderbirds are quick, aggressive and they can shoot with the best of them. The top four for the Cougars: Tate Olson, Sam Ruopp, Joe Carvalho and Josh Anderson are likely going to get a bulk of the work against the likes of Barzal, Gropp, Eansor and Kolesar and it’s not a stretch to suggest that whatever team tonight puts forth a better defensive showing against the opposing team’s top players gives themselves the best chance at victory.

Who’s in Goal:

With Nick McBride nursing a minor injury it looks as though Ty Edmonds is going to get his fourth straight start between the pipes for the Cougars tonight. So far this season he’s 13-8-1-0 with a 2.35 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. In two games this season against Seattle, Edmonds is 1-1 with a .908 save percentage and a goals-against average of exactly 3.00. The 19-year-old is coming off a strong weekend against the Victoria Royals where he went 1-1, however in both games he was strong and gave his team a chance to win – Which is all you can ask for from a goaltender at this stage of the season.


Scoring first has been a real struggle for the Prince George Cougars as of late. In fact in their past 10 games the Cougars have only managed the first goal in two of those games. Granted it hasn’t exactly hurt the Cougars record-wise as they are 5-5 in that span, but when the Cougars do score first this season their record is 16-5-0-1, which is a lot better compared to the 9-10-1-0 mark when the opposition scores the first goal of the game. Considering the offensive fire power at both sides of the coin tonight, that first goal is going to be a big confidence  boost for both sides as both teams are much better when protecting a lead.



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