Cougars Wrap Up U.S. Swing in Spokane
Tonight in Spokane, the Prince George Cougars look to get one step closer to securing home ice advantage in Round 1 of the WHL playoffs when they wrap up their US trip against Don Nachbaur’s Spokane Chiefs. Last night’s dominant 6-1 victory in Kennewick, WA ensured that the Cougars will head into action tonight still two points up on Kelowna for first in the B.C. Division.
With so much still left to be decided in the Western Conference it’s imperative at this stage that the Cougars just keep on winning. The Chiefs are a young, up-and-coming plucky bunch though and they’d love to spoil the Cougars B.C. Division title aspirations. A victory though tonight on the road would guarantee that the Cougars will finish no worse than second in the B.C. Division and would clinch home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000.
Home Record: 12-14-5-2
Last Game: A 4-2 loss last night at home against the Portland Winterhawks
Goals For/Goals Against: 215 GF/252 GA
Power Play: 21.7% (9th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 75.4% “(19th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kailer Yamamoto (60GP – 38G – 48A – 86PTS), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (67GP – 35G – 33A – 68PTS), Hudson Elynuik (59GP – 26G – 40A – 66PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kailer Yamamoto: The younger of the two Yamamoto brothers is having a terrific third season in the WHL. His 86 points ranks him first on the team and has registered six goals and seven assists for 13 points over his past 10 games. He has a goal and three assists in three games this season against Prince George.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan: The draft eligible forward has two goals and two assists this season against the Cougars and sits second on the Chiefs in scoring with 35 goals and 68 total points. He’s a pure sniper and he’s only going to get better with time.
WHO’S ON D:
Ty Smith: The number one pick from the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft has done everything asked of him and then some in his first season. The rookie rearguard leads the Chiefs in scoring from the back-end with four goals and 28 points. The amount of ice-time that this kid has logged this season in all sorts of situations has been impressive to say the least and the Cougars can expect a steady diet of number 24 tonight.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Jayden Sittler: The veteran 20-year-old has not played against the Cougars yet this season, because his counterpart Dawson Weatherill has drawn into all three prior matchups. But with that said, Weatherill is listed as week-to-week with an injury, which likely means that Sittler will get the nod again tonight, despite playing last night at home against the Winterhawks. Sittler is 15-16-3-1 this season with an .879 save percentage and a 3.58 goals-against-average.
Pride: The Chiefs will not be playing playoff hockey in 2017, but that doesn’t mean for a single second that Don Nachbaur’s troops are going to be an easy foe tonight. It’s now audition time for next season, and the Chiefs have an abundance of young and hungry talent who are looking to play a big part in the future successes of this team. A team with nothing to lose can be a dangerous thing and the Cougars won’t be in any position to take shortcuts tonight on the road.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Road Record: 21-11-2-0
Last Game: A 6-1 victory last night in Kennewick against Tri-City.
Goals For/Goals Against: 245 GF/195 GA
Power Play: 17.8% (17th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Jansen Harkins (61GP – 21G – 50A – 71PTS), Nikita Popugaev (68GP – 28G – 38A – 66PTS), Radovan Bondra (59GP – 32G – 31A – 63PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Radovan Bondra: The hottest Cougar going right now is Bondra, who has four goals and nine assists for 13 points in his past six games. Last night against the Ams he had a goal and an assist. He, Colby McAuley and Jansen Harkins have been the Cougars most consistent offensive line as of late, and tonight Bondra will look for more of the same. In two games against the Chiefs (in a Cougars uniform), Bondra has a goal and three assists.
Jesse Gabrielle: The Boston Bruins prospect scored twice and was named the game’s first star last night in Tri-City. Both of Gabrielle’s goals came on the power play and he now leads the team outright in goals with 33. He’s got seven goals and five assists for 12 points over his past seven games.
WHO’S ON D:
Sam Ruopp: The Cougars captain had a goal and was a +1 in yesterday’s win. He leads the team in plus-minus with a +24 rating and he really helped lead the charge defensively for the Cougars who only ended up surrendering a single goal against. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect is just two points shy of matching his career high.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride?: Given the fact that the Cougars are playing their third game in four nights, it could very well mean that Nick McBride will start for the first time since February 25th. McBride to his credit has had a remarkable 2017, going 7-1 in that span. His goals-against-average is 3.06 with a save percentage of .903. His record for the season is 13-5-1-0.
Power Play: The Cougars power play is blazing hot right now. The Cougars have 10 power play goals in their last 22 opportunities and have vaulted up three spots to number 17 in the WHL. It’s been a long time coming for a power play that’s worked very hard in recent weeks, and it’s great to see the power play contributing to the team’s success. Tonight will mark another opportunity for the power play to be a difference-maker.