Black-White Game to Cap Cougars Training Camp
Prince George, B.C. – The 2017 Rob Charney Cup is on the line tonight at the CN Centre as the Prince George Cougars hold their annual Black and White game.
The Rob Charney Cup is named after the late Rob Charney, a long-time Cougar scout who lost his battle with cancer back in 2013.
Tonight’s game also signals the official end to the Cougars training camp which started Friday. Fraser Rodgers – the Cougars new play-by-play man and broadcasting manager – says camp went well and encourages the fans to come out tonight (7 p.m.) to see what the new squad has to offer.
“Not only is it free admission, but it’s a good chance to see a lot of the returning players and what could be the team this year,” he says.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere. We’ll have the music, the DJ, the PA announcer, the video score board and rumour has it there may be some free popcorn.”
Despite the fact the Cougars have lost some top players from last year’s squad – including Jansen Harkins, Ty Edmonds, Jesse Gabrielle and Brendan Guhle – he says there’s still plenty of room for optimism this year.
“People want to know: is it a rebuilding year? It’s actually an exciting year potentially on paper. A lot of young guys that could be guys that replace the Gabrielle’s, the Guhle’s, McCauley’s – the guys that are graduating and moving on,” says Rodgers.
“There’s a great little battle in the crease right now. Tavin Grant – an experienced guy – Taylor Gauthier – a draft pick. He looked really good in camp. Even as a 16-year-old he could grab one of the two goalie spots.”
He says there’s also a talented trio of European imports battling for roster spots.
“You’ve got Nikita Popugaev coming back. He was just drafted by New Jersey and looked terrific over the weekend. You’ve got Radovan Bondra as well. He’s a 20-year-old point producer.
“And a Byelorussian drafted this year – 18-year-old Vladislav Mikhalchuk. Not very thick but boy is he fast and skilled. He scored some nice goals on the weekend. He could be an X-Factor as well.”
As for Rodgers – who arrived in Prince George six days ago and who was named BCHL Broadcaster of the Year last year with the Penticton Vees – it’s been a whirlwind start to his job but one he’s enjoyed.
“I got up here Tuesday night, checked into the hotel. Spent Wednesday through Friday preparing for camp. Then the Young Guns games over the weekend. So, not much sleep right now but that’s hockey. Once training camp rolls around, it’s go time.”
And as a former BCHL broadcaster he’s no stranger to Prince George and notes he looks forward to enjoying all the region has to offer.
“You know Prince George, I’m very familiar with it. I’m a guy that kind of likes the outdoors. I’m from Vancouver Island (Nanaimo) where it’s green and outdoorsy. So, it reminds me a lot of home.
“The Okanagan’s great but it’s pretty hot and dry. It’s beautiful but I like the North. It’s got its own unique beauty.”