Cougars Oil Kings Preview
After successfully kicking off the preseason with a 2-0 record, the Prince George Cougars will make their home preseason debut tonight at the CN Centre. Tonight the Cougars to head-to-head with the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first of a double-header this weekend. Both teams will be missing some key bodies because of NHL training camps, but one man’s absence becomes another man’s opportunity.
Derek Laxdal’s Edmonton Oil Kings come into this weekend with a 1-1 record so far in the preseason. Last weekend in St. Albert, Edmonton dropped a 6-3 score to Swift Current, but followed up with a 2-1 victory against Red Deer. Last season Edmonton went 4-0 against the Prince George Cougars, and finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference: 51-15-2-4.
Who’s Up Front:
Through two preseason games, it’s been two European forwards that have led the way offensively for Edmonton. Edgars Kulda (Latvia) and Mads Eller (Denmark) have each recorded two points in two games so far. Kulda dressed in 64 games last season with Edmonton and notched six goals and 17 points along with 34 penalty minutes. Mads Eller is entering his first season in the WHL and has some strong hockey bloodlines. His older brother Lars is a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Who’s on D:
17-year-old defenceman Dysin Mayo is getting set for his second full season in the WHL. Selected in the third round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, Mayo dressed in 42 games last season, recording a goal and four assists. Mayo plays the game with a lot of poise and always seems to stand out positively when Edmonton and Prince George lock horns. With some notable defenceman missing from Edmonton’s arsenal this weekend, Mayo should get a ton of minutes and opportunities this weekend.
Who’s in Goal:
Between the pipes the Oil Kings will be relying on either 16-year-old Patrick Dea or 19-year-old Tyler Santos. Dea was selected 22nd overall in 2012 by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Bantam Draft, while Tyler Santos spent last season with the Bonnyville Pontiacs in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Santos was originally drafted by the Saskatoon Blades, but was traded to the Cougars on January 10, 2010 as part of the Marek Viedensky deal. Santos attended a handful of training camps in Prince George, but was unable to crack the roster full-time. You know that if given the opportunity this weekend that Santos will look to make a positive impression for his new team while keeping his old team off the score sheet.
The biggest factor for Edmonton this weekend will be team defense. The Prince George Cougars have scored 12 goals in their first two preseason games combined, and their home confines of the CN Centre should further stoke the Cougars fire. If the Oil Kings want to find success this weekend they’ll need to stay disciplined, keep things simple defensively, and not allow the Cougars too many odd-man rushes. If Edmonton can quiet the crowd and neutralize some of the Cougars sharpshooters, they’ll put themselves in a strong position to win.
Mark Holick’s Prince George Cougars come into tonight’s game with a 2-0 record so far in the preseason. An 8-4 win over Red Deer and a 4-1 win against Medicine Hat have the Cougars players feeling confident at this point of September. That said, there is still much improvement to be made, and who better to test yourself against than the defending Eastern Conference champs from Edmonton?
Who’s Up Front:
With Troy Bourke, Zach Pochiro and Klarc Wilson away at pro camps, more of the offensive onus is going to fall onto the shoulders of Alex Forsberg, Chase Witala and David Soltes. All three are draft-calibre players that are going to be given plenty of opportunities this weekend to lead this team offensively. The Cougars have shown so far that they are capable of scoring goals in bunches, and the above three will likely be front and centre in the offense if the Cougars to be successful tonight.
Who’s on D:
The Prince George Cougars are now down to eight defenceman on their roster with two weeks remaining until opening night in Portland. Marc McNulty is away at Red Wings’ camp, meaning that seven defenceman are going to see lots of big minutes this weekend against Edmonton. Tanner Lishchynsky leads all Cougars blueliners with three points in two games. Attention to detail is going to be very important for the defence-corps this weekend. The Cougars are still a very young bunch back there, and they’ll need to make the correct and simple decisions this weekend if they want to find collective defensive success.
Who’s in Goal:
With Mac Engel’s departure earlier this week, Brett Zarowny and Ty Edmonds are the only two goaltenders remaining in Prince George. Zarowny will be given ample opportunity to prove himself as a number one starter in this league, and the remainder of the preseason will be very important for Zarowny to maintain his confidence. So far he is 1-0 and stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced last Sunday against Medicine Hat. Ty Edmonds is no slouch either, and the 17-year-old Winnipeg product will be pushing Zarowny hard for playing time. Both will probably get a look this weekend, and both have a lot to prove as the regular season draws closer.
No confirmed decisions have been made between the pipes as of now, but the potential Tyler Santos/Brett Zarowny goaltending duel is intriguing on many levels. On one hand, Brett Zarowny will want to put forth a strong outing against his hometown team and build off last weekend’s success. On the other hand, Tyler Santos will want to stick it to his old team, while also building a strong case for him to crack Edmonton’s roster this season as a compliment to Tristan Jarry. We may see this matchup, or we may not, but goaltending promises to be a major focal point in the end result of tonight’s game.
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