Cougars versus Thunderbirds, Game 2
Game 1 between the Prince George Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds had no shortage of intrigue, drama or suspense whatsoever. The high flying Thunderbirds played a strong, structured fast game, and the Cougars were right there with them. Sure the shots on goal favored Seattle, but Ty Edmonds was aces for the Cougars and importantly the Cougars did not back down or show any signs of being intimidated.
Unfortunately though, the Cougars dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime and trail 1-0 in the best-of-seven series heading into tonight’s Game 2. Last night’s hard-luck loss in overtime now puts larger onus on tonight’s outcome for the Cougars though. If they win tonight it gives them a bunch of confidence, and gives them home ice advantage for the remainder of the series.
Head Coach: Steve Konowalchuk
Series Record: 1-0
Power Play: 0/5
Penalty Kill: 3/5
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Depth played a big part in Seattle’s Game 1 victory. MATT BARZAL and KEEGAN KOLESAR were held off the score sheet, but the likes of CAVIN LETH, ALEXANDER TRUE and ANDREAS SCHUMACHER did their part in supplying timely offense for the T-Birds. SCHUMACHER and TRUE had very effective games for Seattle, each of whom scored a goal. SCHUMACHER’s came off a redirection in overtime to give his team the victory. Depth is an underrated element come playoff time, and the T-Birds have to be encouraged by their secondary scoring efforts from Game 1.
WHO’S ON D:
JARED HAUF and JERRET SMITH logged big minutes as predicted for Seattle and did a great job in keeping the Cougars off the scoresheet five-on-five. Penalties though were a concern for Seattle as the number one ranked penalty killing unit from the regular season went just three-for-five. SMITH and HAUF will again be big factors defensively along with ETHAN BEAR and TURNER OTTENBREIT who together create a very difficult foursome of blueliners to play against.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
23 shots faced, and 21 saves later LANDON BOW is 1-0 in the series. He didn’t face the same number of shots as his counterpart at the other end, but BOW was steady when he had to be. He made a terrific save on OT off of Sam Ruopp and a huge save on the second period off of Luke Harrison to keep his team within striking distance. BOW will almost certainly get the nod tonight in Game 2 for Seattle.
Over the course of a long series it would be a stretch to suggest that MATHEW BARZAL, KEEGAN KOLESAR and SCOTT EANSOR will stay pointless for long, and tonight in Game 2 the T-Birds are again going to be looking to their top forwards to provide offense. BARZAL’S play-making is arguably the best in the WHL while KOLESAR provides great size and strength and EANSOR has speed for days. Keeping those three in check will again be a big-time key for the Cougars.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Head Coach: Mark Holick
Series Record: 0-1
Power Play: 2/5
Penalty Kill: 5/5
WHO’S UP FRONT:
JANSEN HARKINS led the Cougars offensively with a goal and an assist in Game 1. JESSE GABRIELLE also scored for the Cougars on a power play early in the second period. Special teams definitely went the way of the Cougars in Game 1, and now it’s up for the group to get going five-on-five. All four lines for the Cougars had good looks in Game 1, and now it’s up to them to figure out a way in Game 2 both on and off the man advantage!
WHO’S ON D:
SAM RUOPP and CARVALHO logged huge minutes for the Cougars in Game 1 while TATE OLSON, SHANE COLLINS, JOEL LAKUSTA and SHAUN DOSANJH all battled hard, blocked shots and defended well against a very fast, deep and physical Thunderbirds team. The Cougars are going to need similar commitment from all hands on deck tonight in Game 2.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
TY EDMONDS was brilliant, plain and simple. He faced 50 shots and made 47 saves. That’s the exact type of goaltending that the Cougars were hoping for, and if he can continue to put up those kind of performances, it’s going to be a long series. He matched up well against his veteran counterpart Landon Bow, and again goaltending is going to be at the forefront tonight and a big key for both clubs.
SPECIAL TEAMS were a big positive for the Cougars in Game 1 and that will certainly be a big focus for Mark Holick’s crew again in Game 2. That said, the Cougars are going to have to score even strength goals at some point, and you can bet that there will plenty of onus on shots, net-front traffic and a tenacious fort-check tonight for the Cougars as they look to even up the series and head back to Prince George all squared at 1-1.