Cougars Look to Snap Two Game Skid as Road Trip Continues
Tonight it’s all about ‘self’ for the Prince George Cougars. Last weekend the Cats dropped two very close hard-fought games to Moose Jaw and Kamloops respectively, and despite earning a single point in Saturday’s overtime loss, there is a collective feeling of regret knowing how close the Cougars game to securing an important regulation victory against Kamloops. A lengthy road trip for the Cougars continues tonight in Vancouver against a plucky Vancouver Giants team that historically has given the Cougars some very tough games this season. The task at hand will be anything but easy tonight as the Cougars look to avoid their first three game losing skid of the season.
Home Record: 10-13-1-1
Last Game: A 6-1 loss in Seattle Saturday night
Goals For/Goals Against: 138 GF/184 GA
Power Play: 14.7% (21st in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 74.3% (21st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Tyler Benson (33GP – 11G – 31A – 42PTS), Ty Ronning (44GP – 19G – 21A – 40PTS), James Malm (44GP – 15G – 22A – 37PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The New York Rangers prospect leads the Giants with 19 goals and sits second on the team in points. In four games against the Cougars this season Ronning has totalled two goals and three assists for five points. He’s speedy, tenacious and is willing to work for his chances.
James Malm: The second year forward has had a strong season with 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points. He, like Ronning plays a fast, pesky style of game and he’ll get noticed every shift for his effort and his skill. He’s got two goals and an assist against the Cougars this season.
WHO’S ON D:
Matt Barberis: In just 34 games this season Matt Barberis has eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points which leads all Vancouver defencemen. He’s an excellent puck mover with a deceptive shot and he’s very poised on the Giants power play. He will likely get big minutes tonight in all situations for his team.
Dylan Plouffe: The draft eligible defenceman is having a strong second season in the WHL. Plouffe has four goals and 12 assists along with 31 penalty minutes another young and promising player that figures to be a big part of Vancouver’s successes down the road.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ryan Kubic: With a record of 14-20-1-2 Ryan Kubic continues to get a bulk of the work for the Giants. His 3.53 goals-against-average is complimented by an .893 save percentage. This season against the Cougars the 18-year-old is 1-2-1-0.
Effort: To their credit the Vancouver Giants do not quit. They play a fast, aggressive style and are going to make the opposition earn their breaks and chances. Despite the fact that the Giants are 10 points back of a playoff spot, they play the game with a lot of passion and pride and are not about to make a single second of tonight’s game easy on the Cougars.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 17-6-2-0
Last Game: A 5-4 Overtime Loss Saturday in Kamloops.
Goals For/Goals Against: 170 GF/137 GA
Power Play: 16% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (50GP – 24G – 35A – 59PTS), Jansen Harkins (43GP – 15G – 35A – 50A), Brad Morrison (48GP – 19G – 26A – 45PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: In recent weeks Jansen Harkins has been dialled in, and he’s played some of his best hockey ever as of late. He had a goal and an assist Saturday in Kamloops and now has 50 points for the season. He’s now two assists shy of becoming the team’s all-time assists leader and needs just 20 points to surpass Chase Witala for the franchise’s scoring lead.
Jesse Gabrielle: Returned to the lineup Saturday and paced the Cougars with a goal and two assists in the first period. In four games against the Giants this season, Gabrielle has notched four goals and three assists for seven points. He always seems to bring it against Vancouver and hopefully tonight can yield more of the same.
WHO’S ON D:
Sam Ruopp: The Cougars captain returns to the lineup after missing the last five games due to injury. With Ruopp healthy that gives the Cougars another two-way weapon on the back-end. He defends hard, plays a ton of big minutes and can chip in with the occasional goal. He’s the Cougars inspirational leader and you can bet that his presence in the lineup is going to have a major positive effect on things tonight for the visitors.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride: With Ty Edmonds starting the most recent two games it looks as if Nick McBride is going to get the nod tonight for the Cougars in his hometown. McBride has won his last two starts but has surrendered five goals against in each of them. He’ll look to reduce that number in a big way tonight as he pursues his ninth victory of the season.
Structure: When the Cougars play to their strengths and their systems they are incredibly difficult to beat. In recent games the Cougars have veered away from what makes them successful and it’s cost them. Structure and discipline are important in every game, but especially on the road against a team like Vancouver who can burn you with their speed and skill if you’re not careful. It’ll be very important tonight for the Cougars to maintain their sense of structure when they take the ice against their B.C. Division rivals tonight.