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October 28, 2017 12:15 am

Cougars Face Rockets in Rematch

Saturday, February 13, 2016 @ 12:42 PM

Last night at the CN Centre the Prince George Cougars took the WHL’s top team to the limit.

Marrk Holick’s Prince George Cougars out-shot, out-chanced and largely out-played the Kelowna Rockets through 60-plus minutes of thrilling action last night. But the Kelowna Rockets are the defending champs for a reason. They’ve built their reputation on finding ways to win, and despite not being at their best they were able to find a way last night to earn the 4-3 overtime victory. For the Prince George Cougars there is no need for negativity, and no need to change much of anything as far as the approach is concerned for the rematch tonight. You thought last night’s game was fun? Well buckle up, because there’s a rematch looming in a matter of hours from now.

Brad Ralph’s Kelowna Rockets come into tonight’s game with the top overall record of 39-15-3-0. Their 79 points put them two points ahead of the Victoria Royals for first in the B.C. Division and 13 points ahead of the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets are 4-2 against the Cougars this season and are 2-1 against them at the CN Centre. With wins in six of their past 10 games the Rockets will now attempt to become just the second team all season to earn a road double-header sweep against the Cougars in Prince George.

Who’s Up Front

Last night the Kelowna Rockets offense was paced by the trio of Tomas Soustal, Dillon Dube and Rourke Chartier. Soustal opened the scoring for Kelowna in the first, and Chartier scored the next three goals for the Rockets including the overtime winner. Chartier has battled some injuries this season and has only played in 26 games, but in that span he’s registered 17 goals and 10 assists for 27 points. In just two games this season against the Cougars, Chartier has three goals and three assists and for his career he’s scored 17 goals and 14 assists for 31 points in 24 games against Prince George

Who’s on D:

Are the Kelowna Rockets pleased with the two points from Friday? Absolutely. Are they pleased with the fact that they surrendered 46 shots against? Probably not. As far as adjustments go for tonight’s rematch that will almost certainly be an area of focus for the Rockets as they look to try and limit the number of quality chances in their end. The Rockets don’t shy away from using all six of their defencemen regularly, but tonight the Cougars can once again expect a steady diet of Joe Gatenby, Cal Foote, Devante Stephens and Lucas Johansen.

Who’s in Goal:

Michael Herringer was the best Kelowna Rocket on the ice last night, without debate. Sure Rourke Chartier scored three timely goals and deserves some high praise for that feat, but without Michael Herringer the Kelowna Rockets do not win last night’s game. Period. Of his 43 saves, a good portion of them were legitimate scoring chances, many of which came in the first period when the Cougars outshot the Rockets 18-9. For the season, Herringer is now 4-0 against the Cougars and is 19-9-1-0 overall on the season. If Jackson Whistle’s injury continues to linger, the Rockets have every right to feel confident that Michael Herringer can carry the load in goal if need be.


Seldom do you see the Kelowna Rockets score four goals without Tyson Baillie factoring into the offense. The 20-year-old forward had a few good looks last night, but was stymied by Nick McBride and the Cougars defense-corps. For his career, Baillie has 36 points in 34 games against the Prince George Cougars an still remains a significant threat each and every time he takes the ice. The Cougars have to be encouraged by the fact that they were able to keep Baillie silenced last night, and a repeat performance is absolutely in order tonight in the rematch.



Mark Holick’s Prince George Cougars roll into tonight’s game with a record of 31-21-3-1. Their 66 points place them eight points ahead of Kamloops for third in the division and 11 points back of Victoria for second. Despite dropping their last four games, the Cougars have gone 4-4-2-0 in their past 10 games. A victory tonight for the Cougars accomplishes two things: First it moves the Cougars past their win total from 2014-15 and it also surpasses the point total from last season too, with 15 games still remaining after tonight. This season the Cougars are 2-3-1-0 against the Rockets and are 1-1-1-0 against them at home.

Who’s Up Front:

If you want consistency, Jesse Gabrielle is your guy. Consider this: This season Jesse Gabrielle has recorded multiple points in 21 games! Coming into tonight he leads the Cougars in goals (35) and points (65) and over his past 10 games, he has registered seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. All Gabrielle has done in his last three games is score three goals and four assists for seven points. Tonight Gabrielle looks to extend his goal scoring streak to four straight games, and he along with Chase Witala and Brogan O’Brien will likely get plenty of opportunities to do so. The ‘big line’ for the Cougars has been excellent as of late, despite the string of losses, and it’s likely going to require another big game from all three guys to help get the Cougars back into the win column.

Who’s on D:
Over the course of 60-plus minutes last night the Cougars played a strong defensive game. Heading into the weekend, Mark Holick preached the importance of structure and the Cougars were largely successful in making life tough for the Rockets offensively. But with that said, the Rockets are a team that feasts on mistakes, and when the Cougars did make their rare mistakes a night ago, the Rockets capitalized. Shane Collins had a solid night for the Cougars offensively tallying one assist and a +3 rating for Prince George, not bad considering the Cougars played almost the entire game with only five defenceman after Shaun Dosanjh left with injury. Tonight it’s all about minimizing mistakes while continuing to stay disciplined against the potent Kelowna Rockets attack.

Who’s in Goal:

Over the course of his WHL career, Ty Edmonds has played some of his best hockey against the Kelowna Rockets. Last season, the Cougars beat Kelowna twice, both times in Kelowna, and in both games Ty Edmonds was the first star. This season, Edmonds has two victories against the Kelowna Rockets and in both games he was stellar, shutting them out once and allowing just one goal against in the other while making 30 saves. It hasn’t been the easiest go for Edmonds as of late as he’s winless in his past three starts and his record in 2016 is 6-6-1-0. If it is Edmonds who’s slated to get the start tonight he’s got a terrific opportunity to gain some swagger back in his step. Often times it requires a great goaltending performance for a team to break a skid, and Edmonds has shown numerous times over the course of his career that he’s capable of coming up with a big game, and tonight may very well be another one of those nights, assuming his number gets called. Nick McBride may very well be in line for his fifth start in six games. He’s also looking to snap a streak of three starts without a victory.


Mental toughness will once again be a major key tonight for the Cougars. They can’t let the result of last night discourage them with the rematch looming tonight. If the Cougars approach tonight’s game with a similar mindset and intensity, they are going to give themselves every feasible opportunity to win. With the playoffs drawing nearer, it’s very important for the Cougars to continue to focus on their own process and getting that confidence back in their game. There’s plenty to feel good about when it comes to the 2015-16 Cougars, and tonight we’ll get another glimpse of what the makeup and character of this team is all about!


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