Preview: Cougars Visit T-Birds
Familiarity won’t be an issue when the Prince George Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds renew hostilities tonight at the ShoWare Center. Tonight’s game marks the third meeting between these two clubs within the last calendar week. Last weekend in Prince George the Cougars earned a hard fought split with Seattle and are now 2-1 against them this season. Tonight the Cats continue a stretch of four games in five nights in three different cities when they clash with the T-Birds for the final time during the 2016-17 regular season.
Home Record: 7-5-0-1
Last Game: A 3-1 loss to Spokane at home on Wednesday night
Goals For/Goals Against: 98 GF/95 GA
Power Play: 16.8% (18th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.1% (6th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Scott Eansor (31GP – 15G – 18A – 33PTS), Nolan Volcan (31GP – 11G – 16A – 27PTS), Ethan Bear (29GP – 10G – 16A – 26PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Nolan Volcan: Has recorded a goal and five assists in just three games against the Cougars this season. Volcan’s got 27 points in 31 games total and is now just five points shy from surpassing his previous season high which he set a season ago.
Sami Moilanen: Four of Sami Moilanen’s 10 goals this season have come against the Prince George Cougars. In fact he’s got a goal against the Cougars in all three games he’s played. For the season the rookie Fin has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points in 29 games.
WHO’S ON D:
Ethan Bear: The steady Ethan Bear continues to put up big numbers. His 10 goals rank him fifth among all WHL defenceman in goal scoring while his 26 points rank him 13th in points. Against the Cougars he’s managed only one assist but he will get a ton of ice time again tonight in all types of situations.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Rylan Toth: Veteran Rylan Toth started both games against the Cougars last week and went 1-1 with a collective .875 save percentage and a 3.53 goals-against-average. For the season he is now 12-12-1-0 with a 3.07 goals-against-average and an .887 save percentage.
Matt Berlin: Hasn’t played in a game since relieving Rylan Toth in Kelowna back on December 7th. The 18-year-old Edmonton native is having a heck of a season though sporting a record of 3-0-1-0 with a 1.81 goals-against-average and a .924 save percentage in seven appearances with Seattle.
Energy: Tonight the T-Birds look to take advantage of a Cougars team that’s playing their third game in four nights with some pretty hectic travel involved. A big key will be for Seattle to push the pace early, match the Cougars physically and ideally get an early goal or two to get their loud and rowdy crowd into the game.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 11-3-1-0
Last Game: A 5-3 victory at home over the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday. For the Cougars it was their third straight win.
Goals For/Goals Against: 124 GF/88 GA
Power Play: 17.0% (17th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 87.7% (1st in WHL)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Brogan O’Brien: The 19-year-old Prince George product snapped an 18 game goal scoring drought on Wednesday with his fifth of the season. Offensively O’Brien is capable of putting up big points in big games, and hopefully he can ride the positive way from Wednesday tonight.
Kody McDonald: With four points in his past two games you get the sense that Kody McDonald is really starting to come on. He’s now got eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 31 games this season. He’s playing the game with a lot of confidence right now and hopefully that wave of positivity continues for him tonight.
WHO’S ON D:
Brendan Guhle: Has eight points in seven games since joining the Cougars. Six of those eight points have been goals. He now has eight points on the season and really genuinely seems to be fitting in well with this group both on and off the ice.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride?: With two games coming up this weekend it would seem likely that McBride will start in one of them. Tonight makes sense for a variety of reasons, but mainly the fact that McBride beat the T-Birds last Saturday at home. For the season McBride is now 5-3-1-0 on the season with an .892 save percentage and a 3,52 goals-against-average.
Ignore fatigue: That holiday break is so close you can practically feel it, and these players are all well aware of the upcoming break. But with that said these points tonight and tomorrow are still of the utmost importance for the Cougars as they try to gain some more separation between themselves and the Kamloops Blazers. Shrug off the fatigue, play the game hard and the results and the upcoming break from hockey will both take care of themselves.