Cougars Set for Rare Afternoon Game
After a rare Friday and Saturday without a game, the Prince George Cougars return to action this afternoon at the CN Centre. The Cougars are one of four B.C. Division teams in action today, and all games are matinees due to Family Day in the Province of British Columbia. While the Cougars were sitting idle, the Kamloops Blazers were busy earning three of four available points, which means the Cougars division lead is now at four points. Today the Cougars will look to maintain some separation when they battle the Spokane Chiefs for the second time this season.
Road Record: 11-13-1-1
Last Game: A 4-3 home ice victory Saturday against the Tri-City Americans
Goals For/Goals Against: 183 GF/197 GA
Power Play: 22.8% (7th in the WHL)
Penalty Kill: 76.2% (18th in the WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kailer Yamamoto (48GP – 31G – 39A – 70PTS), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (55GP – 30G – 27A – 57PTS), Keanu Yamamoto (55GP – 21G – 34A – 55PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kailer Yamamoto: With points in five of his last six games, 2017 Draft eligible forward Kailer Yamamoto is the Chiefs most feared offensive weapon. Over his past six games, he’s got a goal and seven assists and comes into action today leading all Chiefs in both goals and points. Yamamoto sits tied for eighth in WHL scoring heading into action today.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan: The Chiefs have another very talented NHL Draft eligible forward in Jaret Anderson-Dolan. The sophomore from Calgary has registered eight goals over his past seven games and sits second in team scoring with 57 points in 55 games.
WHO’S ON D:
Ty Smith: Selected first overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, the rookie defenceman has had a phenomenal first season in the WHL. The pride of Lloydminster, AB is tied for the team lead in scoring among all defenseman with three goals and 21 assists for 24 points. The rookie logs key minutes in all situations, and plays with a poise and maturity beyond his years.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Dawson Weatherill/Jayden Sittler: This season the Chiefs have used a very balanced platoon of both rookie Dawson Weatherill and veteran Jayden Sittler. Weatherill has appeared in 33 games while Sittler has played in 31. Sittler has the slightly better record of 13-11-2-1 while Weatherill is 10-12-4-1. That said, Weatherill’s save percentage is better at .888 while Sittler comes into today’s game with an .878. Chances are good that the Cougars will see both during the double-header.
Desperation: After a recent run where the Chiefs have earned points in seven of their past 10 games, they still find themselves eight points back of Portland for eighth in the WHL’s Western Conference. The Chiefs need all the points they can get, and they need them now. Don Nachbaur’s teams have a reputation for being very pesky and very hard-working, and the Cougars will need to be mindful of the Chiefs desperation when they take the ice this afternoon.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 17-9-1-1
Last Game: A 3-2 shootout loss at the hands of the Vancouver Giants last Wednesday
Goals For/Goals Against: 197 GF/159 GA
Power Play: 16.5% (20th in the WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (2nd in the WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (56GP – 25G – 35A – 60PTS), Jansen Harkins (49GP – 16G – 38A – 54PTS), Brad Morrison (56GP – 20G – 28A – 48PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: Returns to the Cougars lineup tonight after missing the past two games with a minor injury. Harkins has played some of his most consistent hockey in 2017, and his return will no doubt spark the Cougars at both ends of the ice. With 15 games remaining in the season, Harkins sits 16 points shy of becoming the franchise’s new all-time leading scorer. Last season Harkins had two goals and two assists in four games against the Chiefs.
Jesse Gabrielle: The Boston Bruins prospect has registered four goals and three assists in his past six games, and now has 26 goals and 21 assists for 47 points this season. Gabrielle had two goals against the Chiefs last season, and here’s hoping he’s ready to be a thorn on the Chiefs side during two key home-ice games for the Cougars against Spokane.
WHO’S ON D:
Sam Ruopp: With Brendan Guhle still sidelined with an injury, Sam Ruopp is going to be tasked with playing the most minutes against the likes of Kailer Yamamoto and Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Ruopp comes into tonight’s game with a team high +19 rating, and has played big minutes in all situations this season for the first placed Cougars. Today’s game against the Chiefs will be no exception.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride/Ty Edmonds: The veteran Cougar tandem could both be in line to get a game of the upcoming double-header with the Chiefs. McBride is rolling as of late having secured five consecutive victories between the pipes for the Cougars and his record now sits at 11-4-1-0 with an .899 save percentage and a 3.13 goals-against-average. Ty Edmonds was took the hard-luck loss on Wednesday in the shootout against Vancouver. He’s still one victory shy of the all-time victory record for Cougar goaltenders, and could very well reach that milestone today or tomorrow.
Desperation: With the Kamloops Blazers nipping at the Cougars heels, the Cougars as well will need to hunker down and find a higher level of desperation and intensity for these next two games. So far on their current home stand the Cougars are 1-2-0-1, but they can still salvage their home stand with two victories today and tomorrow. The Chiefs have played a lot of hockey as of late, and could be somewhat fatigued. But Don Nachbaur’s team will never use fatigue or travel as an excuse, and the Cougars best be prepared for a major battle this afternoon.