Cougars Close Phenomenal First Half in Spokane Tonight
Tonight in Spokane the first half of the 2016-17 WHL season will come to an end for the Prince George Cougars. In many ways that’s a bittersweet fact given how well the Cougars have played through 35 games. Heading into tonight’s action the Cougars hold a league-best record of 25-8-2-0. They’ve won four straight games and are 10 points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers for first in the B.C. Division. Tonight in Spokane the Cougars will look to put an exclamation point on a great first half when they battle the home town Chiefs for the first time this season.
Home Record: 7-6-4-1
Last Game: A 3-1 victory Tuesday night in Seattle
Goals For/Goals Against: 110 GF/112 GA
Power Play: 24.8% (5th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 73.2% (21st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kailer Yamamoto (26GP – 20G – 21A – 41PTS), Hudson Elynuik (27GP – 12G – 24A – 36PTS), Keanu Yamamoto (32GP – 13G – 22A – 35PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kailer Yamamoto: The draft eligible forward enters tonight’s game with a five game point streak. In that span he has registered three goals and seven assists for 10 points. He leads the Chiefs in goals (20) and points (41). To the surprise of many, Yamamoto was let off the USA World Junior roster for 2016.
Hudson Elynuik: The Carolina Hurricanes prospect has had a great season. He’s recorded 36 points in 27 games played which puts him second on the team in scoring. At 6’5″ and 195 pounds he’s hard to miss out there and provides a nice mix of size and skill for this young Spokane squad that’s on the rise.
WHO’S ON D:
Ty Smith: The 2015 first overall selection in the WHL Bantam Draft is off to a great start for his WHL career. In 26 games he’s registered a goal and 11 assists for 12 points and logs major minutes already for this Chiefs team. He’s got remarkable poise for a young defenceman and should see a ton of minutes tonight against the Cougars in all situations.
Tyson Helgesen: Leads all Spokane d-men with 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points. The 19-year-old is one of the elder statesmen on the Chiefs back-end and provides a nice mixture of offense and defense to his team. Look for him to log a bulk of the minutes against the Cougars top offensive guns.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Jayden Sittler: The 20-year-old has appeared in 20 games so far and is 8-6-2-0 on the season with a 3.45 goals-against-average and an .877 save percentage. Sittler has some experience playing against the Cougars having started his career as a member of the Victoria Royals.
Dawson Weatherill: The 17-year-old Red Deer, AB native has a 6-6-3-1 record with an .888 save percentage and a slightly better 3.22 goals-against average in 18 games played this season.
Fresh Legs: The Chiefs haven’t played since Tuesday. The Cougars on the other hand will be playing their fourth game in a span of five nights. It will be important for the Chiefs to set an early tone and get their loud crowd into the game early. They will certainly have the energy advantage tonight.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 12-3-2-0
Last Game: A 3-2 victory last night in Seattle
Goals For/Goals Against: 127 GF/90 GA
Power Play: 17.3% (17th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 87.8% (1st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (29 GP – 7G – 27A – 34PTS), Brad Morrison (34GP – 15G – 19A – 34PTS), Jesse Gabrielle (28GP – 19G – 13A – 32PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Brad Morrison: Has goals in back-to-back games and sits second on the team in goal scoring now with 15. He is tied with Jansen Harkins for the team leading in scoring with 34 points. He has five goals and two assists for seven points in his past six games.
Yan Khomenko: The 18-year-old Russian has more than doubled his goal and point totals from last season. Now with 10 goals on the season, Khomenko is playing with a ton of confidence and has been a real ‘find’ for this Cougars team in 2016-17.
WHO’S ON D:
Shane Collins: Continues to provide steady two-way minutes for the Prince George Cougars. While others like Brendan Guhle, Sam Ruopp and Tate Olson may hot some of the headlines, Collins has arguably been the team’s most reliable defender. He plays in all situations and has provided quality minutes alongside Brendan Guhle. He’s one goal shy of surpassing his previous season high for goals in a season.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds: After Nick McBride played last night it would appear as though Ty Edmonds is going to lead the Cougars into their holiday break. Edmonds comes into tonight chasing a few franchise milestones. If he starts tonight he’ll be making his 188th career appearance which would tie him for the most games every played a Cougars netminder. He’s also 22 saves shy of becoming the Cougars all-time franchise saves leader.
Dig Deep: This week had all the makings of a character revealer for the Cougars and so far they have passed their tests with flying colors. They’ve won four straight games and are three-for-three on this current stretch of four games in five nights. A win tonight would be the cherry on top of an excellent first half of the season. It won’t be easy to find the energy, but having secured three victories already this week should sure help the Cougars cause.