Cougars Seek Sixth Straight Win
Tonight at home the Cougars arrive at the two-thirds mark of their season when they wrap up a three game home stand against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. Coming into tonight’s game the Cougars have won five straight and currently hold an 11 point lead on Kamloops for top spot in the B.C. Division. The Moose Jaw Warriors on the other hand are nearly wrapping up a lengthy road swing through the West and are within four points of the Regina Pats for first in the Eastern Division. A win for the Cougars tonight would give them their second longest winning streak of the season.
MOOSE JAW WARRIORS
Road Record: 13-7-2-0
Last Game: A 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday in Kelowna
Goals For/Goals Against: 167 GF/153 GA
Power Play: 22.2% (7th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 80.7% (8th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jayden Halbgewachs (46GP – 38G – 34A – 72PTS), Brayden Burke (41GP – 14G – 49A – 63PTS), Noah Gregor (42GP – 20G – 32A – 52PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jayden Halbewachs: Coming into tonight’s game the 19-year-old from Emerald Park, SK leads all WHL skaters in both goals and points. He’s gone three games without a goal which is unusual for him. The Cougars are hoping that tonight is not his night to break out.
Brayden Burke: Every great goal scorer needs a set-up man, and Burke currently sits third in the WHL in assists with 49. His 63 points put him seventh overall in league scoring. Last season with Lethbridge, Burke led the WHL with 82 assists and his 109 points a season ago ranked him third in league scoring.
WHO’S ON D:
Josh Brook: The 17-year-old draft eligible defenceman from Roblin, Manitoba is having a strong second season in the WHL. Having only dressed in 30 games last season, he’s already matched his goal totals from a season ago (4) while adding 21 assists for 25 points. Brook was picked fourth overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
Jett Woo: The rookie defenceman figures to be a star defencemen some day in this league. In 40 games this season the 16-year-old Woo has three goals along with 11 assists for 14 points. He was selected fourth overall by the Warriors in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Zach Sawchenko/Brody Wilms: The Warriors have a very capable goaltending tandem featuring these two veterans. Sawchenko has played 29 games and has a 17-7-4-1 record with a 3.10 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage. Wilms at the other hand is 10-5-2-0 with a .909 save percentage and a 3.14 goals-against-average. Tim Hunter has to feel good about giving either guy the nod on any given night as both are supremely capable of leading their team to victory.
Justin Almeida/Yan Khomenko: The two former Cougars will suit up against their former teammates for the first time in their careers. In seven games with Moose Jaw, Almeida is pointless but is getting tons of great opportunities with veteran linemates. Khomenko has a single assist and has done a nice job of supplying further depth for Moose Jaw. One would think that both players are going to be extra charged up for tonight’s game.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 16-6-1-0
Last Game: A 6-5 shootout victory at home Wednesday against Portland
Goals For/Goals Against: 165 GF/130 GA
Power Play: 15.9% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 85.3% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (48GP – 24G – 33A – 57PTS), Jansen Harkins (41GP – 14G – 33A – 47PTS), Brad Morrison (46GP – 19G – 26A – 45PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: Has now potted four goals and added three assists for seven points over his past four games. The Winnipeg Jets prospect had a goal in regulation and the shootout winner Wednesday against Portland and is playing some of his best hockey ever. He and linemates Colby McAuley and Radovan Bondra have been outstanding since they’ve started playing together.
Brad Morrison: With a goal and two assists Wednesday against Portland, Brad Morrison now finds himself just one goal shy of 20 and five points shy of 50 for the season. Morrison has goals in three straight games and will look to make it four when he takes the ice tonight against the Warriors.
WHO’S ON D:
Brendan Guhle: The Buffalo Sabres prospect has recorded a point in five of his past six games and leads all Cougars defencemen in scoring with nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points. Guhle should get a bulk of the work tonight against the likes of Howden, Burke and Halbgewachs – two of which he’d be very familiar with from his time with the Prince Albert Raiders.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds/Nick McBride: With tomorrow night’s game in Kamloops looming as well, Richard Matvichuk has an interesting decision to make. Does he go back with Nick McBride tonight at home against Moose Jaw in order to give Edmonds the game against a divisional foe? Or does he start Ty Edmonds for both? Perhaps Richard Matvichuk will go with Edmonds tonight and McBride Saturday. Either way the Cougars are going to need their goaltender to rise to the occasion tonight against a very potent Moose Jaw attack.
Nikita Popugaev: The 18-year-old old Russian will be facing his former team tonight for the first time since the trade in early January sent him to Prince George. Popugaev has gone three straight games without a point, and you know that he’ll be looking to change that tonight against his former mates! There’s no shortage of intrigue heading into tonight’s matchup which will also feature a huge crowd for the MEGA JACKPOT!
Just looked at some quick stats on average attendance for the Cougars:
The trend is definitely going in the right direction. Also worth highlighting some other cities for this year:
Medicine Hat: 3,629
From there, you get into a number of teams with much stronger averages. I don’t have numbers to back me up on this, but it sure seems like attendance is down across the board from what it used to be 10-15 years ago. There are currently only 6 teams in the WHL averaging over 5,000 a game and three of those markets are Calgary, Edmonton and Portland.
One has to wonder if lower average attendance is simply the new norm for major junior hockey in Canada. I’m sure there are many contributing factors.
Anyway, GO CATS!!!!!
Good job on getting the stats! Maybe hockey prices are a tad higher, 24$? EVERYTHING has gone up in PG; taxes, food is a big one, buses, you name it and it has gone up. This is always a major roadblock for sports team. But I guess concerts seem to get good crowds, and their costs are inane, so who really knows??. Spruce Kings have pretty fair prices, but their attendance is always low and they are playing pretty good hockey, if it wasn’t for the show home sales they would have gone belly up years ago! Yep, go cats! Playoff bound for sure!
The attendance should only keep rising as the season winds down. It’s going to be an exciting finish and I cant wait to see how it all plays out.
Looking forward to the game tonight. GO CATS GO!!!!!!!!!
Great to see the city supporting the team again, and all the haters have all shut up now.
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