Cougars Look to Rebound Against Oil Kings
Welcome to Day 9 on the road for the Prince George Cougars on what has been a fairly up-and-down trip to this point.
After a dramatic 2-1 shootout victory on Monday in Vancouver the Cougars dropped a 5-2 decision to the Red Deer Rebels last night. It was 2-2 early in the third and to the Cougars credit they were able to battle back from a 2-0 deficit. But the Rebels struck three times unanswered and prevailed by a 5-2 count. Tonight it’s a different sort of test for the Cougars as they battle a reeling Edmonton Oil Kings club that have dropped nine straight and are hoping to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot with some points this weekend.
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
Home Record: 9-15-1-1
Last Game: A 7-2 loss last night in Medicine Hat against the Tigers
Goals For/Goals Against: 142 GF/178 GA
Power Play: 18.1% (14th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.1% (11th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Davis Koch (48GP – 12G – 37A – 49PTS), Trey Fix-Wolansky (47GP – 13G – 21A – 34PTS), Tyler Robertson (42GP – 11G – 15A – 26PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Davis Koch: 18-year-old Davis Koch is having a great season in this, his third full campaign in the WHL. The Surrey, B.C. native leads the way with 49 points in 48 games for Edmonton and he’s a +6. His previous season high for points was 25 which he did in his rookie season. Consistency is some times tough to find on a young team but having a guy like Koch around has surely been a breath of fresh air for this young and up-and-coming Oil Kings squad.
Trey-Fix-Wolansky: The Oil Kings look like they’ve found a good one in 17-year-old Trey Fix-Wolansky. Acquired during the preseason in a trade with Prince Albert, Fix-Wolansky sits second in team scoring and has had a nice first season in the WHL. His size won’t blow you away (5’8″, 165 pounds) but he speed and smarts make him an effective player that should only get better as time goes on.
WHO’S ON D:
Will Warm: The 17-year-old rookie has stepped in and made an immediate impact on the Oil Kings during his first season. He leads all Oil Kings defensemen in both goals (7) and points (19) and he’s hoping to hear his name called in the earlier rounds of the 2017 NHL Draft. Despite being only 17 he’ll log some big minutes tonight in all situations for the Oil Kings.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Patrick Dea: The veteran netminder has suited up in 106 career games with the Edmonton Oil Kings and has seen a bulk of the workload this season having posted a record of 16-19-1-1 with one shutout. His goals-against-average is 3.55 and his save percentage sits at .886 heading into action tonight.
Desperation: Two seasons ago the Cougars found themselves in a similar situation to Edmonton: Trapped in a January losing skid that felt like it was never going to end. The Cougars ended dropping 12 straight games, going 0-10-2-0 in that span before finally snapping that streak against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings in early February. Fast forward to present day and it’s the Oil Kings that have dropped nine in a row and have been outscored 48-24 in that span. But the Cougars at this point are in zero position whatsoever to under-estimate anybody. With a charged up crowd expected tonight in Edmonton the Oil Kings are doing to do what every other team seems to be doing lately against the Cougars and that is: Bring their very best effort.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 18-7-2-0
Last Game: A 5-2 loss last night against the Red Deer Rebels
Goals For/Goals Against: 174 GF/143 GA
Power Play: 15.9% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.8% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (52GP – 24G – 35A – 59PTS), Jansen Harkins (45GP – 15G – 35A – 50PTS), Brad Morrison (50GP – 19G – 27A – 46PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jared Bethune: Led the charge offensively last night for the Cougars with a goal and an assist and has now recorded goals in back-to-back games. Bethune seemed to find some chemistry alongside Aaron Boyd and Josh Curtis towards the end of the game last night and perhaps that’s a combination that Richard Matvichuk and company experiment again with tonight. Bethune is three goals shy of surpassing his goal totals from last season and needs just six points to set a new season high in points as well.
Jansen Harkins: Has now gone two games without an assist which means he’s still stuck at 151 assists for his career – One shy of matching Troy Bourke for the franchise lead in career assists. It’s not a matter of if, but when for Harkins and perhaps he can have a breakout weekend against Edmonton tonight and tomorrow.
WHO’S ON D:
Brendan Guhle: The Buffalo Sabres prospect is from the Edmonton area and it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s playing in Edmonton as a regular in the NHL. But for now he’s still with the Prince George Cougars and he’s been remarkable all season long. Tonight the Cougars are going to need to cut down on the shots and chances against and a big game from Guhle would go a long way in that regard.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride: Don’t look now, but Nick McBride has won each of his past three starts and is coming off a superb start last Monday in Vancouver. Ironically, McBride made his Cougars debut against Edmonton last season and beat them twice. Tonight he’ll look to keep his recent run of success going as he appears to be in line to get the nod tonight from the Cougars coaching staff.
The Best Players Need to Be….: The Best Players! Last night in Red Deer the Rebels simply had more of their top guys clicking than the Cougars did. You can have all the talent in the world but if you’re not willing to put the work boots on, you’re going to have trouble winning games. Tonight the Cougars need their stars to shine. There’s plenty of puck to go around, and there are certainly a number of Cougars ready to break out in a big way. Hopefully tonight can be the night.