Cougars Blazers Rematch Goes Tonight
Last night at home the Prince George Cougars put forth one of their most complete efforts of the entire season. They scored early and often in what ended up as an 8-4 victory over their division rivals, the Kamloops Blazers. Now heading into tonight’s rematch the Cougars are four points up on Kelowna and five points up on Kamloops for first in the B.C. Division with five games remaining in their regular season schedule. It’s bound to be an emotional rematch tonight as the Cougars and Blazers will once again square off at CN Centre. It will mark the sixth of eight meetings between the two B.C. Division rivals.
Road Record: 15-14-1-4
Last Game: An 8-4 loss Friday against the Cougars in Prince George
Goals For/Goals Against: 224 GF/181 GA
Power Play: 17.3% (19th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.9% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Deven Sideroff (63GP – 35G – 40A – 75PTS), Rudolfs Balcers (60GP – 35G – 35A – 70PTS), Lane Bauer (65GP – 36G – 31A – 67PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Collin Shirley: The 20-year-old now has five goals and an assist in five games against the Cougars this season. For his career against Prince George he has now accumulated 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 23 games. This season on the whole he has 26 goals and 32 assists for 58 points.
Rudolfs Balcers: The San Jose Sharks prospect had an assist last night and now has 35 assists to go with his 35 goals. In five games against the Cougars this season he now has two goals and four assists.
WHO’S ON D:
Luke Zazula: The rookie defenceman from Langley, B.C. has had a terrific rookie season. The 2000-born blueliner has two goals to go along with 12 assists and is a +1 with 53 penalty minutes. He checks in a 5’8″ and 165 pounds, but there are folks in Kamloops who compare him to former Royals standout Joe Hicketts. Zazula played a ton last night and chipped in with an assist for Kamloops. The future is bright on their back-end thanks to the emergence of Zazula this season.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Connor Ingram: Let’s be clear – Connor Ingram is an all-world goaltender and was a huge reason for Team Canada’s silver medal success at the world juniors earlier this year. He’s an x-factor by himself because he’s the type of goaltender that on any given night usually can and will steal a game for his team. Sure he had a tough night last night surrendering five goals on 32 shots faced, but chances are he’ll get the nod tonight and he’ll be playing with a major point to prove. An angry Connor Ingram is not a good thing for the Cougars and they’ll need to make sure they bring their best effort yet again to try and beat him.
Hard Work: Don Hay’s teams are notorious for their relentless work ethic and their passion and the Cougars can expect a steady dose of both in tonight’s rematch. Their level of urgency will be sky high tonight as they look to climb back within three points of first place in the B.C. Division in tonight’s rematch and the Cougars will need to be ready.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 21-10-1-2
Last Game: An 8-4 victory at home last night against Kamloops
Goals For/Goals Against: 229 GF/188 GA
Power Play: 16.2% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.8% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (58GP – 19G – 47A – 66PTS), Nikita Popugaev (65GP – 27G – 37A – 64PTS), Radovan Bondra (56GP – 31G – 25A – 56PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jared Bethune: The Fort Francis, ON native will suit up in his 200th career WHL game tonight when the Cats clash with Kamloops. Last night he helped lead the Cougars charge offensively with two goals and an assist and was named the game’s third star. For his career he’s posted 42 goals and 60 assists for 102 total points.
Kody McDonald: Kody McDonald got the Cougars going both with his offense and his physicality last night. He finished with two goals, an assist and a fight for the Gordie Howe hat-trick and he threw some big hits early to help sway momentum the way of the Cougars. For the season he’s scored 15 goals while adding 28 assists for 43 points and he leads the team with 113 penalty minutes.
WHO’S ON D:
Brendan Guhle: After missing the previous 12 games with an injury, Brendan Guhle made a huge statement in his return to the Cougars lineup Friday with a goal, three assists and a +5 rating. He’s a game changer at both ends of the ice and the Cougars seemed to thrive on having Guhle back in the lineup.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: Last night Ty Edmonds simply did what he had to do to help his team win. Yes he got the run support but he also made some clutch saves at key moments, the best of which happened early in the first period when he slid to his right to rob Deven Sideroff with his right pad. He now has 97 career victories and 28 for the season. Once again he’ll be tasked with either matching or out-dueling his counterpart at the other end.
Don’t Change a Thing: Finish checks, convert on your chances, and play team-first hockey.If the Cougars can come out tonight with a similar effort as last night, they’re going to give themselves every possible chance to be successful.