Cougars Seek Revenge vs Rockets
The Kelowna Rockets have drawn first blood in the weekend double-header in Prince George against the Cougars. Last night the Cats were able to erase a 2-0 deficit in the second period, but ultimately fell 3-2 after a Kole Lind goal broke up the tie at 7:23 of the third period.Friday’s loss coupled with a Kamloops Blazers shootout loss in Seattle means that the Cougars division lead now sits at eight points, and tonight with a rematch looming against the Rockets, the Cougars will look to put three strong periods together as they set their sights on a weekend split with their B.C. Division rivals.
Road Record: 16-10-2-0
Last Game: A 3-2 victory in Prince George last night
Goals For/Goals Against: 181 GF/158 GA
Power Play: 23% (6th in the WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.3% (11th in the WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kole Lind (50GP – 25G – 39A – 63PTS), Calvin Thurkauf (40GP – 24G – 23A – 47PTS), Cal Foote (51GP – 5G – 36A – 41PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kole Lind: The Rockets leading scorer was full marks last night scoring twice. One of Lind’s goals came shorthanded in the first and his second came at 7:23 of the third with the game tied 2-2. The draft eligible forward was brilliant alongside Dillon Dube. Keeping Lind contained tonight will be a major key for PG.
Dillon Dube: The Calgary Flames prospect used his speed and his smarts effectively last night. He assisted on both of Kole Lind’s goals and was explosive and dominant at times. Due to injury and the World Juniors, Dube has only suited up in 20 games this season for Kelowna, but he still managed eight goals and 17 assists in that span. He’s a game-changer and certainly showed it last night.
WHO’S ON D:
Lucas Johansen: The Washington Capitals first rounder played a strong two-way game last night for Kelowna. Through 48 games he’s got three goals along with 24 assists for 27 points. Johansen’s greatest asset is his speed and he was able to use it at both ends of the ice against the Cougars Friday. He’ll log a ton of minutes again tonight alongside Devante Stephens.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Michael Herringer: The 20-year-old was his usual steady self last night and earned his sixth career victory against the Cougars. For the season Herringer now holds a record of 22-12-3-0. Over the past two seasons he’s gone 6-3 against the Cougars with a .922 save percentage and a 2.65 goals-against average in nine appearances. He played well enough last night to warrant another start tonight. We’ll see if head coach Jason Smith decides to play his 20-year-old for a third time in four nights or whether it will be Brodan Salmond’s turn tonight.
Experience: Last night the Rocket’s top players rose the occasion when the game was on the line and ultimately secured the 3-2 win. The trio of Nick Merkley, Reid Gardiner and Calvin Thurkauf did their part while fellow veterans Dillon Dube, Kole Lind and Carson Twarynski were dominant as well. There’s no shortage of talent on either side of the coin when it comes to these two teams, but last night it was the Rocket’s ‘big guns’ that had more pop.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 16-8-1-0
Last Game: A 3-2 loss at home last night to Kelowna
Goals For/Goals Against: 190 GF/150 GA
Power Play: 16.7% (20th in the WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.9% (2nd in the WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (53GP – 24G – 35A – 59PTS), Jansen Harkins (48GP – 16G – 38A – 54PTS), Brad Morrison (53GP – 20G – 28A – 48PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jesse Gabrielle: The Boston Bruins prospect has now notched 24 goals for the season and is clicking at a point-per-game pace this season through 43 games. Gabrielle sits one goal shy of 100 for his career and could look to reach that milestone and then some tonight in the rematch with the Rockets.
Colby McAuley: Colby McAuley now sits one goal shy of 20 for the season, which is an impressive feat for the 20-year-old who has really rounded out his game in all areas this season. McAuley gives a good honest effort every night and has now recorded three goals four assists in five games this season against the Rockets. The alternate captain will once again be counted upon to make an impact tonight and you can bet he’s up for the challenge.
WHO’S ON D:
Tate Olson: With Brendan Guhle listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury, Tate Olson becomes a major focal point of the Cougars blueline at both ends of the ice. The Vancouver Canucks prospect has six goals and 14 assists for 20 points this season and is a +3. He can expect some major minutes again tonight and the veteran will be expected to lead the way on the back-end alongside fellow veterans Sam Ruopp and Shane Collins.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: 20-year-old Ty Edmonds did his part last night to keep his team within striking distance, but unfortunately he fell one save short of his counterpart at the other end. Did he do enough to warrant another start? Time will tell. But if he does get the nod tonight he’ll get another crack at history as he looks to become the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender. He’s 3-1 this season against the Rockets.
Experience: Will the Cougars depth and experience be able to bounce back tonight? Through 40 minutes the Cougars competed hard and went tic-for-tat against the Rockets. However the third period was a much different story and the Rockets were able to prevail. Tonight the onus is on the Cougar veterans to bring their best and not allow the Rockets to leave Prince George with four points in their back pocket.