Cougars Look to Rebound Against Silvertips
Tonight in Prince George the Cougars and Everett Silvertips will renew hostilities at the CN Centre.
Friday night, the Silvertips spoiled the Cougars party with a 2-0 victory and after the game cougars head coach Mark Holick hinted that his team’s effort for the most part was not to his liking. Both teams will have made the necessary adjustments, and tonight it’s all about the ‘response’ for the Prince George Cougars as they look to crack the win column for the first time this season.
Kevin Constantine’s Everett Silvertips are 1-0 on the season and have to be pleased with how their season got started. Friday night the Silvertips played a very stingy, ‘in your face’ type of game and kept the Cougars big guns in check offensively. Tonight the message will surely be the same as the ‘Tips look for the weekend sweep of the Cougars.
Who’s Up Front:
At the 12:30 mark of the second period Friday, Everett forward Patrick Bajkov got the Silvertips on the board with a terrific individual effort. The third year forward out of Nanaimo is poised for a big season after posting 23 goals last season as a 17-year-old. Bajkov is a ‘late birthday’ and is eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. He’s certainly got speed and skill and will certainly be a player to watch during tonight’s rematch.
Who’s on D:
Defensively the Silvertips deserve a lot of credit for the way that they kept the Cougars offense silenced. Primarily it was the big four of Kevin Davis, Cole MacDonald, Tristan Pfiefer and Mackenzie Dwyer that saw the most ice time. Tonight the Cougars can expect a similar situation, and will have to adjust accordingly.
Who’s in Goal:
After turning a lot of heads during his rookie season, Carter Hart wasted no time in picking up right where he left off. The draft eligible netminder turned aside all 27 shots he faced Friday to secure his first victory and first shutout of the season. Given the day off yesterday, it would appear likely that Hart would get the nod again tonight. But perhaps Kevin Constantine will elect to go with 20-year-old Austin Lotz or even 18-year-old Mario Petit. Regardless of who gets the call in net, the Silvertips will play with confidence knowing what all three of their goaltenders are capable of.
The Everett Silvertips will head home tonight with a split regardless of how tonight unfolds. That in itself is a win for a young team that’s looking to establish themselves as a US Division threat once again. The big key though is to push Friday’s success to the backburner for now, as tonight is a separate challenge. The ride home with two points is fine, but a ride home with four would feel that much better. Mentally the Silvertips need to be ready, because the Cougars aren’t about to roll over.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Mark Holick’s Prince George Cougars are not hitting the panic button. One game does not define a 72 game season, and for the Prince George Cougars, it’s a positive that they don’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption against Everett. Friday night’s game had its moments for PG, but ultimately the Silvertips earned the victory. Tonight’s rematch will be an early character tester for the Cougars as they look to climb back to the .500 mark early in 2015-16.
Who’s Up Front:
Offensively the Cougars weren’t quite fully in sync on Friday night. Passes that are normally tape to tape were winding up in skates, and pucks that are usually fired on or into the net were shot wide or were blocked. That won’t last forever, and you can bet that the entire forward corps will be hungry and inspired for tonight’s rematch. Ideally the Cougars can strike early tonight and get that first goal out of the way, because with this roster there will be goals galore in 2015-16. It starts with just one.
Who’s on D:
Defensively the Cougars can feel good about the fact that they held the Silvertips to just two goals against, one of which was an empty-netter. But with that said, the Silvertips did outshoot the Cougars 35-27, and really made their mark during the second period when they outshot the Cougars 21-12. Tonight it’s all about adjustments, and the big four of Sam Ruopp, Joe Carvalho, Tate Olson and Josh Anderson once again are likely to get the lion’s share of the work against Everett’s top offensive players.
Who’s in Goal:
The glaring positive for the Prince George Cougars on Friday was 19-year-old Ty Edmonds. He faced 34 shots and made 33 saves and was named the game’s first star for his efforts. A huge confidence boost early in the season for Edmonds who has all of the tools necessary to be a star goaltender in this league. Tonight though he might be watching as 20-year-old Mack Shields looks to get his first kick at the can in a Cougars uniform. Goaltending this season is a major strength for this team, and hopefully Shields is up to the task of matching or surpassing his counterpart at the other end tonight.
The biggest key for the Cougars tonight is to play to their strengths. The Cougars are a fast, creative and physical team and they are at their best when they are skating. How do you counteract strong defense? You do it with speed, intensity and physicality. Look for the Cougars to set the physical tone early tonight. The first 10 minutes of tonight’s game will be important for both clubs, and if the Cougars can establish a home ice presence early tonight, it should bode very well for them on the scoresheet.