Preview: Cougars Host Royals
It’s a rivalry that needs no introduction. The Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals have hooked up for some classics in recent years and as a new month begins the Cougars are set to begin their longest stretch of home games this season. The Cougars will spend the next two weeks at home and will play seven games between now and Wednesday December 14th. The biggest key for the Cougars will be to keep the positive momentum moving forward as they have won three straight at home. But the team across the ice are well coached, and are loaded with skill and experience. Heading into tonight’s game the Royals are 10 points back of the Cougars for first in the B.C. Division and a strong weekend up North could change things in a hurry. These are going to be two incredibly important and exciting games.
Road Record: 5-5-2-0
Last Game: A 4-3 loss at home to the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday.
Goals For/Goals Against: 95 GF/85 GA
Power Play: 19.7% (12th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 81.6 (6th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Matthew Phillips (26GP – 19G – 11A – 30PTS), Jack Walker (26GP – 13G – 15A – 28PTS), Dante Hannoun (28GP – 10GP – 17A – 27PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Matthew Phillips: Not only does the Calgary Flames prospect lead his team in scoring but he’s coming off a three goal game Wednesday against the Wheat Kings. He’s got six goals in his past four games and his 19 goals rank second in the WHL.
Jack Walker: The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect is one of the fastest skaters in the WHL. tHIS SEASON He’s got 28 points in 26 games and last season he had eight points in eight games against Prince George.
WHO’S ON D:
Chaz Reddekopp: The LA Kings prospect has had a great start to the 2016-17 season. Offensively he leads all Royals defenders with 19 points in 23 games and is a +8. He’ll get a bulk of the work defensively tonight against the Cougars top offensive guns.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Griffen Outhouse: The 18-year-old former Cariboo Cougar is showing that his tremendous numbers from a season ago were no fluke. This season he’s 14-9-1-0 with a 2.64 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage. Last season he was 2-2 against the Cougars with a staggering .939 save percentage.
Road Swagger: Over the past five seasons the Royals have gone 14-6 against the Cougars at the CN Centre. Given their experience, goaltending and firepower they are the type of team that can rise to any occasion. They don’t have the same kind of fire power that they had a season ago, but they still work just as hard and the Cougars are going to need to match or surpass the Royals work ethic this weekend if they want to be successful.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 8-3-1-0
Last Game: A 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday in Langley against the Vancouver Giants.
Goals For/Goals Against: 97 GF/72 GA
Power Play: 18.9% (14th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 85.8% (1st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Brad Morrison (26GP – 10G – 17A – 27PTS), Jansen Harkins (21GP – 6G – 20A – 26PTS), Jesse Gabrielle (21GP – 13G – 11A – 24PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Brad Morrison: The New York Rangers prospect had the overtime winner Tuesday in Vancouver and continues to lead the Cougars in scoring with 27 points in 26 games. He also set up Brendan Guhle’s game-tying goal.
Jansen Harkins: Had a goal and an assist on Tuesday and now the Winnipeg Jets prospect finds himself just one point back of Morrison for the team lead. Harkins has recorded at least a point in 16 of his past 18 games.
WHO’S ON D:
Sam Ruopp: The third year Cougars captain returned to the lineup on Tuesday after serving a lengthy eight game suspension and he didn’t look the least bit out of place. Ruopp is a dynamic two-way threat and logs huge minutes in all situation. Tonight it will be up to Ruopp to protect the Cougars net against the likes of Phillips, Hannoun and Walker.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: Improved his record to 15-3-1-0 on Tuesday with a 19 save victory against the Giants. It wasn’t his strongest game by any stretch, but Edmonds battle hard and came up with timely saves when it mattered most to keep his team within striking distance. He’s 1-0 against the Royals this season but was 1-4 against them last season with a .913 save percentage and a 3.09 goals-against-average.
Make Hay At Home: The Cougars begin their longest home stand of the season tonight and have a terrific opportunity on their hands to really create some separation between themselves and their rivals. The Cougars road success has been well documented, but their 8-3-1-0 home record is nothing to scoff at either.
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