Cougars Look to Get Back on Track
Since the Prince George Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds last faced one another a lot has changed. But it’s funny how even though the names and faces change over the course of a rivalry, the hostility remains. Tonight, the Cougars get their first chance at revenge against the team that ended their season in 2015-16.
Home Record: 1-2-0-0
2015-16 Record VS PG: 2-2 (1-1 at home)
Goals For/Goals Against: 12 GF/19 GA
Power Play: 5.3% (22nd in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 61.1% (22nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Alex True (5GP – 4G – 0A – 4 PTS), Scott Eansor (5GP – 1G – 3A – 4PTS), Donovan Neuls (5GP – 2G – 1A – 3PTS).
Head Coach: Steve Konowalchuk
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Scott Eansor: Led all active T-Birds with four points against the Cougars last season. The 20-year-old is one of the most underrated players in the WHL. He can beat you with speed and skill and is generally noticeable for all of the right reasons.
Ryan Gropp: The 20-year-old was recently returned to the Seattle Thunderbirds after failing to crack the New York Rangers AHL team in Hartford. Gropp has scored 30 (or more) goals in each of his past two seasons and he’s got one of the best shots in the entire WHL.
WHO’S ON D:
Ethan Bear: Finished fifth in league scoring for defenceman last season with 65 points. His 19 goals were fourth most behind only Jake Bean, Jesse Lees and Ivan Provorov. Bear has one assist in four games this season, but he’s constantly a threat, particularly on the power play.
Turner Ottenbreit: Is the polar opposite to his d-partner Ethan Bear, but the two compliment each other very well. His five goals and 16 points last season aren’t going to wow anybody offensively, Ottenbreit plays a steady two-way game and might have been Seattle’s best ‘defender’ against the Cougars in the playoffs.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Rylan Toth: 20-year-0ld Rylan Toth has had a somewhat difficult start to the season with his new team. His record heading into the weekend is 1-3 with a 3.71 goals-against-average and an .870 save percentage. Toth though is proven and he’s bound to snap out of it sooner or later. Last season with Red Deer he was 26-15-0-1.
Special teams: Seattle comes into tonight with the league’s worst power play and penalty kill. Both are going to be big factors considering how successful the Cougars have been in both areas to start the season. The re-addition of Ryan Gropp to their lineup is bound to help the power play, but getting both categories going will be a big key tonight for Seattle.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
2015-16 Record VS. Seattle: 2-2 (1-1 at ShoWare Center)
Road Record: 4-0-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 37 GF/26 GA
Power Play: 21.3% (10th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 91.8% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Brad Morrison (10 GP – 4G – 8A – 12 PTS), Jared Bethune (10 GP – 5G – 6A – 11 PTS), Kody McDonald (10 GP – 4G – 7A – 11 PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jared Bethune: Leads the team this season with five goals but has gone four games without a goal. That’s not to suggest that Bethune hasn’t been strong in other areas, but you can bet that he’ll be looking to get back into the goal column this weekend starting tonight.
Colby McAuley: Is one of six Cougars who are averaging a point-per-game pace so far this season. His 10 points in 10 games is a great stat, but he’s also gone seven games without a goal. Look for that to change sooner than later.
WHO’S ON D:
Tate Olson: Led all Cougars in scoring last season against Seattle with a goal and four assists. Fittingly so far he leads all Cougar defencemen in scoring with: A goal and four assists.
Sam Ruopp: In a loud building against a big rival you need your veterans to lead the way. Tonight, Sam Ruopp is going to get a ton of ice time and opportunity and will be looked up to shutdown the top offensive threats that the T-Birds present.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: Will get the start tonight. So far in seven appearances, Edmonds is 5-1 with a stellar goals-against-average of 2.00 and a terrific save percentage of .925. Last season against Seattle Edmonds was 2-2 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.78 goals-against-average.
Veterans: Simply put, the Cougars big guns need to be better in all areas. That goes in all three areas of the ice. There will be no shortage of energy in the building tonight, and historically it’s been a place where the Cougars are able to thrive having gone 8-2 against Seattle at the ShoWare Center over the past five years. Tonight the onus is on the veterans to help get the Cougars back into the win column.