Cougars Kick Off Two Game Road Trip in Kelowna
Tonight at Prospera Place the Prince George Cougars kick off a weekend of crucial importance when they square off with the Kelowna Rockets. Heading into action tonight the Cougars lead the B.C. Division by four points over the Kamloops Blazers and are nine points up on the Kelowna Rockets who are still very much in the mix.
Richard Matvichuk’s crew is coming off a convincing 7-2 victory at home over the Spokane Chiefs from Tuesday and are looking for a measure of revenge tonight against a Rockets team that defeated them twice in a row at CN Centre earlier this month. A victory tonight for the Cougars would be massive for their confidence as they look to secure their fifth victory of the season against a Rockets squad that was able to secure a single point last night in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Spokane Chiefs.
Home Record: 15-9-3-0
Last Game: A 5-4 overtime loss last night at home to Spokane
Goals For/Goals Against: 207 GF/173 GA
Power Play: 23.7% (6th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 80.0% (9th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kole Lind: 56GP – 26G – 44A – 70PTS), Calvin Thurkauf (46GP – 29G – 24A – 53PTS), Nick Merkley (49GP – 18G – 29A – 47PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kole Lind: The draft eligible forward leads all Rockets in scoring with 70 points. In six games against the Cougars this season Lind has three goals and two assists, which leads all Rockets.
Reid Gardiner: In just two games against the Cougars this season, the 20-year-0ld from Humboldt, SK has three goals and an assist for four points. In 14 games this season, Gardiner has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points.
WHO’S ON D:
Cal Foote: The draft eligible defenceman continues to lead all Rocket defenders with 44 points in 57 games and is a +26. This season against the Cougars he’s registered two assists and is a +4.
Lucas Johansen: The Washington Capitals first rounder can absolutely fly. The 19-year-old has 31 points in 54 games and plays big minutes in all situations for his team. He was -3 in last night’s game against Spokane and will be looking to bounce back.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Michael Herringer: The 20-year-old was pulled in last night’s game after surrendering three goals against on eight shots faced. Odds are he’ll get the nod tonight though for his team against a Cougars team that he’s had some strong recent sucess against. This season Herringer is 2-3 against the Cougars with a 2.41 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage. For the season he is 24-13-3-0.
Dillon Dube: In three games this season against the Cougars Dube has registered four assists and has used his speed and grit to be a very effective player against the Cougars this season. Look for Dube and his linemates to bring a strong effort tonight as the Rockets look to avenge last night’s loss to Spokane.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 20-7-2-0
Last Game: A 7-2 home ice victory Tuesday against Spokane
Goals For/Goals Against: 207 GF/165 GA
Power Play: 16.5% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (58GP – 25G – 35A – 60PTS), Jansen Harkins (51GP – 18G – 41A – 59PTS), Radovan Bondra (49GP – 27G – 22A -49PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: The Winnipeg Jet’s prospect has two goals and three assists in his past two games, and is now one point shy of the team lead in scoring this season. With 13 games left in the season, Harkins needs 11 points to become the new franchise leading scorer. =He’ll look to continue his strong week of play tonight in Kelowna.
Radovan Bondra: Bondra comes into tonight with a four game point streak. During that span he’s got two goals and four assists for six points. Bondra’s 27 goals leads the team and he continues to thrive with his new team since the January 10th trade took place with the Vancouver Giants.
WHO’S ON D:
Tate Olson: The Vancouver Canucks prospect has a goal and two assists over his past two games, and now for the season has registered seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points. Olson has had a strong 2017, and has had to play even tougher minutes as of late given the injury to Brendan Guhle. Olson will be tasked with some major minutes again tonight as the Cougars face a potent Rockets attack. Strong defensive play all around is going to be huge tonight for PG.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride: Having won his past six starts, Nick McBride is on a roll for the Cougars. His record for the season is now 12-4-1-0 and his save percentage is now over. 900 while his goals-against-average sits just above 3.00. It’s been quite a bounce back for McBride who had his struggles towards the end of 2016. Having won his last start on Tuesday, it could very well mean that he gets the go tonight in Kelowna.
Structure/Discipline: The Kelowna Rockets showed earlier this month that when they are given time, space and power plays that they can really make the Cougars pay. Tonight on the road the Cougars are going to have to make sure that they minimize the odd man rushes and the second and third chances given the Rockets. If they can do their best to help their goaltender and avoid needless penalties, they are going to give themselves every possible chance to secure their 39th victory of the season.