Cougars Host Blazers in Key Divisional Matchup
It doesn’t get much better than this. Tonight the B.C. Division leading Prince George Cougars play host to the second placed Kamloops Blazers in the first of a weekend double-header. The Cougars come into action tonight with a three point lead on their closest WHL rivals and two points tonight would be enormous for the Cougars who are looking to maintain separation from both Kamloops and Kelowna. Tonight the Cats host the Blazers for the first time since November 5th.
Road Record: 15-13-1-4
Last Game: A 4-3 home ice victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday
Goals For/Goals Against: 220 GF/173 GA
Power Play: 17.2% (19th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Deven Sideroff (62GP – 35G – 39A – 74PTS), Rudolfs Balcers (35G – 34A – 69PTS), Lane Bauer (36G – 29A – 65PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Rudolfs Balcers: The San Jose Sharks prospect has had a tremendous rookie season in the WHL and leads all Western Conference rookies in scoring with 69 points. Balcers has two goals and three assists for five points in four games this season against the Cougars.
Collin Shirley: In four games against the Cougars the Kamloops captain has four goals. This season the 20-year-old has totalled 25 goals and 31 assists for 56 points in 63 games.
WHO’S ON D:
Ondrej Vala: The Dallas Stars prospect continues to log big minutes in all situations for Kamloops. This season Vala has 10 goals to go with 13 assists and is a +15 which is second among all Kamloops defencemen.
Joe Gatenby: The veteran leads all Kamloops blueliners with six goal and 29 assists for 35 points altogether. Gatenby has proven to be a very valuable addition after the fall trade that brought him to Kamloops from Kelowna.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Connor Ingram: The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect is as good as it gets in the WHL. On February 19th he earned a 3-0 shutout victory against the Cougars and is now 24-11-2-2 on the season with a .930 save percentage and a 2.26 goals-against-average.
Deven Sideroff: The 19-year-old Anaheim Ducks prospect might be the fastest skater in the entire WHL and he’s used that speed to his advantage having posted a goal and three assists against the Cougars in four games this season. The Blazers leading scorer has five overtime winners this season and has provided Kamloops with clutch play all season.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 20-10-1-2
Last Game: A 5-1 loss Wednesday in Kelowna
Goals For/Goals Against: 221 GF/184 GA
Power Play: 15.9% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.0% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (57GP – 19G – 46A – 65PTS), Nikita Popugaev (64G – 26G – 37A – 63PTS), Radovan Bondra (55GP – 30G – 24A – 54PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: The Cougars leading scorer assisted on the Cougars only goal Wednesday and now leads the team in scoring with 65 points in 57 games. Coming into tonight Harkins is just five points shy from the all-time franchise lead. He has a goal and four assist for five points against Kamloops so far this season.
Radovan Bondra: The Blackhawks prospect became the first 30 goal scorer for the Cougars this season with a third period marker Wednesday in Kelowna. Bondra now has 23 points in 23 games since joining the Cougars on January 10th and continues to provide steady play for Richard Matvichuk.
WHO’S ON D:
Tate Olson: The Vancouver Canucks prospect has two points in four meetings against Kamloops so far this season and has been playing some very strong two-way hockey as of late for the Cougars. Tonight he and Sam Ruopp will get a bulk of the big minutes against the speedy, talented Kamloops forwards.
Josh Anderson: Wednesday the Colorado Avalanche prospect finished a +1 in a 5-1 loss. That’s a compliment to just how well he’s been playing as of late. His all-around game has really rounded into form in recent months and he continues to be one of Richard Matvichuk’s most trusted defencemen.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: Tonight the Cougars are going to need their 20-year-old to match or out-duel his counterpart at the other end. Edmonds is 27-15-2-2 for the season with a 2.53 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage. He’s 2-1-1-0 against Kamloops with a 2.49 goals-against-average and a .936 save percentage.
Jesse Gabrielle: The Boston Bruins prospect leads all Cougars in scoring against the Blazers with four goals and three assists in four games. Coming into this weekend Gabrielle is sitting at 29 goals, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the second Cougar to reach the 30 goal plateau this season. His energy and intensity is perfectly suited for a weekend of this importance.