Cougars Look to Stave Off Elimination in Portland Tonight
For the first time in the 2017 post-season the Prince George Cougars are facing elimination. After back-to-back victories by the Winterhawks in Games 4 and 5 the Cougars now trail this series 3-2 with Game 6 set for tonight in Oregon. A win tonight would force a seventh and deciding game on Wednesday in Prince George – A loss, would end what has been a record-setting season for the Cougars. It may sound cliche’d, but the toughest game of a series to win is the last one, and tonight the Cougars are going to need all hands on deck of they want to keep their season alive.
Series Record: 3-2
Series Home Record: 1-1
Goals For/Goals Against: 16 GF/20 GA
Power Play: 6/21 (28.6%)
Penalty Kill: 13/18 (72.2%)
Leading Scorers: Cody Glass (5GP – 2G – 4A – 6PTS), Caleb Jones (5GP – 0G – 6A – 6PTS), Joachim Blichfeld (5GP – 2G – 2A – 4PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Cody Glass: The Portland Winterhawks leading scorer during the regular season now finds himself atop his team’s post season scoring list as well. With two goals and four assists in the series, Glass has consistently contributed to his team’s success. He had a goal and an assist in Game 5 and really helped set the tone for his team offensively.
Joachim Blichfeld: The import forward struck twice for Portland in Game 5 and now has two goals and two assists for the series. Up until Game 5, Blichfeld had been kept quiet in the series, so no doubt the native of Denmark is feeling confident having now made his mark in this series. He’s especially crafty on the power play, which went one-for-two against the Cougars in Game 5.
WHO’S ON D:
Caleb Jones: The Edmonton Oilers prospect is tied with Cody Glass for the team lead in scoring so far in this series. Jones paced the Portland attack with four points in Game 4 at home, and played an effective Game 5 despite being held off the score sheet. If Portland hopes to end this series tonight at home they are going to need Jones to be a positive factor once again at both sides of the puck.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Cole Kehler: It’s been a feast or famine type of series for Hawks goaltender Cole Kehler who is now 3-2 in the series. In Games 1 and 5, he was outstanding and was named the first star in both (which were Portland victories). Kehler’s best game of the series though had to be Game 5 where he turned aside 48 of the 51 shots fired his way in Prince George. It’s still worth mentioning that he’s also been yanked twice in the series, and the Cougars know that they can get to him. His save percentage for the series is .883 with a 4.47 goals-against-average.
Close the Deal: The Winterhawks have shown remarkable resilience in this series, especially in the third period. Thinking back to Game 4 the Hawks were able to strike twice unanswered to win the game 5-4, and then in Game 5 they didn’t fold when the Cougars tied the game, and instead came right back with a response 59 seconds later to help secure their third win of the series. Can this young group of Winterhawks use the home crowd and some recent series momentum to their advantage tonight? We’re about to find out.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Series Record: 2-3
Road Series Record: 1-1
Goals For/Goals Against: 20 GF/16 GA
Power Play: 5/18 (27.8%)
Penalty Kill: 15/21 (71.4%)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (5GP – 2G – 5A – 7PTS), Colby McAuley (5GP – 3G – 4A – 7PTS), Brendan Guhle (5GP – 0G – 6A – 6PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Colby McAuley: The 20-year-old Cougars forward scored a huge goal in Game 5 which momentarily tied the score at three. McAuley is tied for the team lead in goals with three and points with seven and has been a physical threat every time he’s taken the ice in the series. As a 20-year-old there’s no darn way that he wants his final game in the WHL to take place tonight in Portland. Look for him to play with an even higher level of urgency because of that.
WHO’S ON D:
Sam Ruopp: Do you think that the three-year Cougar captain is going to sit idly by and watch his team get eliminated on the road in Game 6? The 20-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets prospect has been his usual physical, dependable self in this series and tonight he can expect to log a TON of minutes in all situations. Keeping the likes of Cody Glass, Skyler McKenzie and Keegan Iverson in check will likely be his top responsibility tonight in Portland.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: The 20-year-old goaltender will be playing tonight’s game with a huge point to prove. The last two games of this series haven’t quite gone his way, but it’s amazing what a bit of pressure and adversity can do for an athlete. The all-time winningest goaltender in Cougars history has never faced a situation quite like this before, and here’s hoping he’s able to enjoy the moment, embrace the challenge and make his mark in Game 6 as the Cougars look to extend the series.
Quell the Crowd: The crowd was absolutely a factor for the Cougars at home in Game 5 and in turn it is going to be all sorts of loud tonight in Portland for Game 6. If the Cougars can grab an early lead and do their best to stun the crowd early it’s going to be a massive boost of confidence for all involved. At the end of the day tonight the Cougars need to embrace the challenge, stick to their strengths and play a team game. If they do those things there’s zero reason to believe that this series won’t be coming back for a Game 7 on Wednesday night.