Cougars vs. Portland Game Four Preview
They’ve outscored Portland by an 11-2 margin in games 2 and 3 combined and tonight they’ll look for their third straight victory in this series when they meet with the Winterhawks again tonight on the road. A victory in Game 4 would put the Cougars firmly in control, but a loss would make the series become a best-of-three and would ensure at least one more trip back to Portland before this series concludes.
Series Record: 1-2
Goals For/Goals Against: 6 GF/13 GA
Power Play: 3/15 (20%)
Penalty Kill: 8/12 (66.6%)
Leading Scorers: Skyler McKenzie (3GP – 2G – 0A – 2PTS), Cody Glass (3GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS), Keegan Iverson (3GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Skyler McKenzie: The 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, AB is the only Winterhawks forward with two or more goals in this series. He opened the scoring 14 seconds into last night’s game and helped stake his mates to an early lead. McKenzie has been his usual effective self, and is a threat to score every time he takes the ice.
Cody Glass: The Winterhawks leading scorer during the regular season was held off the score sheet in Game 3, and you know full well that he’s going to be extra motivated to come out with a big effort in Game 4. Glass is a terrific play-maker but has also shown zero hesitation when it comes to shooting the puck. Keeping Glass and his linemates at bay will again be key for the Cougars tonight.
WHO’S ON D:
Keoni Texeira: The 19-year-old is the only Winterhawks defenceman with a plus rating so far in the series. Texeira is very underrated and is not afraid to play physically while also providing the Winterhawks with another solid offensive option from the back-end. His experience is also a big factor and in a game of tonight’s magnitude, look for Texeira to be especially strong as he tries to guide his mates back to an even series.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Cole Kehler?: Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Winterhawks heading into Game 4 is what they’re going to do in goal. Cole Kehler is their veteran and he’s the one who played so well down the stretch to get the Winterhawks into the post-season. But he’s 1-2 in the series so far and hasn’t been able to finish either of his last two starts. The alternate plan would be to start 17-year-old rookie Shane Farkas who has turned aside all 19 shots he’s faced in this series. Odds are that Mike Johnston will elect to go with his veteran as Kehler has shown repeatedly this season that he’s able to dominate games. A start tonight in Game 4 would sure go along way in helping his confidence, no doubt.
Special Teams: The Winterhawks finished last night’s game zero-for-six on the power play and were only three-for-five killing penalties. The normally dominant power play had an off night and it was a major difference in the game. Tonight they’ll need to get that going. The good news: They’ve been able to draw a lot of penalties. But they’ll need to win the special teams war tonight at home if they want to head back to Prince George all squared at 2-2.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Series Record: 2-1
Goals For/Goals Against: 13 GF/6 GA
Power Play: 4/12 (33.3%)
Penalty Kill: 12/15 (80%)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (3GP – 2G – 4A – 6PTS), Colby McAuley (3GP – 2G – 3A – 5PTS), Brendan Guhle (3GP – OG – 4A – 4PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: The Winnipeg Jets prospect took over last night’s game in a big way. He paced the Cougars attack with a goal and four assists and was subsequently named the game’s first star. Harkins now leads the Cougars in playoff scoring with six points in three games. Tonight he’ll look to accomplish more of the same alongside his linemates Colby McAuley and Radovan Bondra.
Colby McAuley: The 20-year-old Sherwood Park, AB native loves to play the Winterhawks. In nine games combined this season McAuley now has 11 points. His two goals and one assist last night all seemed to come at clutch moments of the game, and when you add his physicality to the mix, he’s incredibly difficult to play against. He’s already been a big factor in this series and he’ll look to bring more of the same tonight.
WHO’S ON D:
Tate Olson: In Game 2 it was Shane Collins providing a spark offensively and last night in Game 3 it was Tate Olson, who with a second period power play goal gave the Cougars some more breathing room with a three goal cushion. Olson held his own defensively as well, and he will again be tasked with logging some major minutes for the Prince George Cougars tonight in Portland.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: Ty Edmonds has stopped 78 of his past 80 shots. He’s been nothing short of brilliant for the Cats in his past two starts and has been a major factor in staking his team to a 2-1 series lead. Goaltending in the playoffs is all about confidence and right now he’s just trying to ride this wave as long as he can. Tonight won’t be an easy night for him as the Winterhawks are going to bring their best effort of the series to date. If Edmonds can continue playing this type of hockey though it could be another tough night for the home side. His goals-against-average for the series is 1.67 and his save percentage is .957.
Jesse Gabrielle: Who would have thought that with a 13 goal outburst so far this series that Jesse Gabrielle wouldn’t have any for the Cougars. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Gabrielle has been his usual pesky self, and did a remarkable job at getting the Winterhawks off their game last night. It’s only a matter of time before Jesse Gabrielle breaks out offensively in this series and tonight would be as good a night as any as the Cougars take aim at a 3-1 lead in the series with Game 5 set for Saturday in Prince George.