Preview: Cougars Host Wheat Kings
Tonight at the CN Centre the Cougars play game number three of their season-long seven game home stand. So far they are 1-1 having split a weekend double-header with the Victoria Royals. Despite the split the Cougars weren’t too thrilled with their efforts from the weekend and tonight provides a solid opportunity for the Cats to get back on track as it were. Opposing them tonight will be a rested Brandon Wheat Kings team that is looking to snap a three game losing skid of their own. Currently the Wheat Kings are in the midst of a two-week long road trip and tonight’s battle with the Cougars marks their final game against B.C. Division opposition. So far they are 1-2-1-0 against B.C. Division teams.
BRANDON WHEAT KINGS
Road Record: 4-7-2-0
Last Game: A 4-0 loss Sunday in Kamloops
Goals For/Goals Against: 95 GF/90 GA
Power Play: 25% (6th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.7% (10th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Reid Duke (20GP – 16G – 15A – 31PTS), Ty Lewis (29GP – 16G – 14A – 30PTS), Tanner Kaspick (25GP – 11G – 16A – 27PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Reid Duke: The 20-year-old is on a tear having posted 31 points in just 20 games played this season which leads the team. He’s pointless in each of his past two games which could mean he’s due to break out tonight.
Stellio Matheos: The 17-year-old draft eligible forward is in his second season with the Wheat Kings and the former first overall Bantam Draft pick from 2014 is cruising with 11 goals and 14 assists in 29 games played.
WHO’S ON D:
Kale Clague: With 18 points in 20 games this season, LA Kings prospect Kale Clague is the undisputed leader on the back-end for Brandon. Clague was one of the defencemen invited to Team Canada’s World Junior camp and checks a lot of the boxes that Team Canada would be looking for. The LA Kings have a keeper in Kale Clague.
James Shearer: The 19-year-old has put forth a strong start to his season having notched four goals and 10 assists for 14 points. He’s also a +6. Last season he only dressed in 38 regular season games, but dressed in 21 playoff games and contributed some strong minutes along with two goals and three assists en route to a championship.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Jordan Papriny: The 20-year-old is having another strong season between the pipes for Brandon. In 19 games he’s posted a record of 10-7-1-0 with a goals-against-average is 3.01 and his save percentage is .916.
Logan Thompson: The 19-year-0ld has appeared in 10 games this season for Brandon and 3-4-3-0 with a shutout, a 2.85 goals-against-average and a save percentage of .914.
Championship Swagger: The Wheat Kings know how to win. 13 players currently on the Wheat Kings roster played a part in last season’s championship and there’s no substitute for that confidence that comes with winning. Admittedly some of the fire power from previous seasons is gone, but the Wheat Kings have been one of the most consistent teams in all of junior hockey for many years now, and a lot of it stems from experience and ‘knowing how to win.’
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 9-4-1-0
Last Game: A 2-1 loss at the hands of the Victoria Royals
Goals For/Goals Against: 102 GF/76 GA
Power Play: 16.9% (18th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 86.6% (1st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (23GP – 6G – 23A – 29PTS), Jesse Gabrielle (23GP – 16G – 11A – 27PTS), Brad Morrison (28GP – 10G – 17A – 27PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jesse Gabrielle: The Cougars leading scorer started his WHL career with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Last season he had a goal and two assists against them in a losing cause. For the season Gabrielle has 16 goals which leads the team.
Kody McDonald: Had the Cougars lone tally Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Victoria. McDonald now has seven goals on the season and continues to be a strong two-way player for Richard Matvichuk’s team.
WHO’S ON D:
Sam Ruopp: The Cougars captain will likely get a bulk of the work load against Brandon’s top forwards (Duke, Lewis, etc.). Since rejoining the team from suspension he’s added his usual poise, intensity and physicality and hasn’t missed a beat.
Tate Olson: Will be the first to admit that he hasn’t been at his best lately, but it’s only a matter of time before the Vancouver Canucks prospect breaks out. Hopefully tonight can be the night.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: Is he the MVP so far this season for the Cougars? It would be hard to argue otherwise. He’s 16-4-1-0 with a 2.13 goals-against-average, a .924 save percentage and one shutout.
Special Teams: You can’t ask for much better on the penalty kill which is a league best 86.6 percent, but the power play has struggled lately going just 4/41 over the past 10 games. If the Cougars can get the power play going it would be a huge confidence boost for them as they look to improve to 2-1 on their current home stand.