Cougars Continue Road Trip in Tri-City
Tonight the Prince George Cougars travels have taken them to Kennewick, WA for game two of their current three game US swing. On Wednesday in Portland the Cougars dropped a 5-4 decision against Portland which now means that they are no longer in complete control of their divison and playoff destiny. Fortunately though there are four games and eight points still on the board, and as long as the Cougars win they’ll continue to be the ones to put the pressure on the Kelowna Rockets who are looming just two points back of first place with five games left in their schedule. Tonight the Cougars wrap up their season series with the Tri-City Americans, a team that they’re 3-0 against this season.
Home Record: 21-8-2-0
Last Game: A 4-2 loss in Kelowna on Saturday night.
Goals For/Goals Against: 253 GF/222 GA
Power Play: 25.8% (3rd in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 79.9% (10th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Morgan Geekie (66GP – 32G – 54A – 86PTS), Tyler Sandhu (66G – 20G – 55A – 75PTS), Parker Wotherspoon (63GP – 10G – 51A – 61PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Morgan Geekie: Coming into play tonight the sophomore forward sits tied for eighth in league scoring with 32 goals and 86 points. Geekie has more than tripled his offensive output compared to last season and has three goals and an assist in three games against the Cougars so far this season.
Tyler Sandhu: The 20-year-old captain has put together a nice final season in the WHL. With 20 goals and 55 assists, Sandhu has established himself as a strong power play presence with eight goals and 27 assists on the man advantage.In 312 career WHL games Sandhu has posted 87 goals and 133 assists for 220 points.
WHO’S ON D:
Parker Wotherspoon: The New York Islanders prospect leads the Ams with 61 points in 63 games. He’s a +!6 and has 85 penalty minutes, which means he’s very reliable defensively and can handle himself physically as well. Look for him to log big minutes tonight on the back-end.
Juuso Valimaki: The draft eligible Fin could very well hear his name called in the first round of the upcoming NHL Draft. This season he’s posted 18 goals from the back-end along with 40 assists. His 18 goals put him fourth in goal scoring among WHL defencemen. He represented Finland in the World Juniors in 2016-17.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Rylan Parenteau: The 20-year-old from Saskatoon has played in the most games of all three Tri-City netminders and has the best numbers. He’s 24-13-1-0 with a 3.12 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage. In two appearances against the Cougars this season though he’s 0-2. Head coach Mike Williamson may also opt to use 19-year-old Evan Sarthou or 17-year-old Beck Warm.
Urgency: The Tri-City Americans still have lots to play for as the Portland Winterhawks are lurking just three points back of them for a top 3 spot in the US Division standings and both teams have six games remaining in their season. This is a team that’s 21-8-2-0 at home and have played some very confident hockey as of late. The Cougars will need to match their urgency level in a bit way tonight.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 20-11-2-0
Last Game: A 5-4 loss Wednesday in Portland
Goals For/Goals Against: 239 GF/ 194 GA
Power Play: 16.9% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (60GP – 20G – 51A – 71PTS), Nikita Popugaev (67G – 28G – 38A – 66PTS), Radovan Bondra (58GP – 31G – 30A – 61PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Radovan Bondra: The Blackhawks prospect is red hot having posted three goals and eight assists for 11 points in his past five games. He’s fit right in alongside Colby McAuley and Jansen Harkins and has been a remarkable addition to the team since the January 10th trade that brought him North.
Jesse Gabrielle: The Boston Bruins prospect had a goal, an assist and a fight Wednesday in Portland and now has 31 goals which is tied for the team lead. His 58 points in 57 games puts him fourth on the team. He’s got a goal and two assists so far this season against the Ams.
WHO’S ON D:
Brendan Guhle: The Buffalo Sabres prospect had a goal and an assist Wednesday in Portland and once again logged major minutes for the Cougars. Tonight he’ll need to do more of the same against a very potent Tri-City attack.
Sam Ruopp: This is the kind of game where Cougars captain Sam Ruopp needs to thrive. He needs to be that big, menacing physical presence while also keeping a close eye on the Ams’ top scorers. The Cougars will need to make sure that they are as sharp as possible defensively once the playoffs arrive and tonight will be a good test.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds?: Does Richard Matvichuk go back to the 20-year-old tonight? He’s 3-0 this season against Tri-City and historically has played some strong games at the Toyota Center. That said, Nick McBride hasn’t played February 25th against Edmonton. Odds are that both will see a game this weekend, but it depends on whether the Cougars decide to go back to Edmonds tonight or tomorrow in Spokane.
Team Defense: Come playoff time the Cougars are going to have to get used to playing in a lot of 3-2 and 2-1 type of hockey games. That means that over the next week or so, it’ll be very important for the Cougars to regain as much defensively confidence as possible. Defensive turnovers were a big reason for the Cougars struggles defensively on Wednesday and tonight the Cougars will look to take some steps forward when they take the ice against the Ams.