Cougars Oil Kings Part Two
The 2013 preseason continues for the Prince George Cougars tonight at home. For a second consecutive evening, the Prince George Cougars will lock horns with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Last night’s game featured a ton of rough stuff with the teams combining for 110 penalty minutes. Prince George prevailed with a 5-1 victory and now they’ll set their sights on a weekend preseason sweep.
Derek Laxdal’s Edmonton Oil Kings are now 1-2 for the preseason after dropping last night’s game to Prince George. Admittedly the Oil Kings team we saw last night was a far cry from the roster that they’ll have once the regular season begins, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t jobs to be won or lost this weekend for this team. Edmonton will be looking to avenge last night’s defeat and you can bank on the fact that they’ll be ready to play tonight.
Who’s Up Front:
Edmonton’s goal last night came courtesy of 18-year-old forward Cole Benson. Benson has played in 103 career WHL games and has 12 goals and 17 points in that span. Over the past two seasons Benson has proven to be a reliable soldier for Derek Laxdal’s group, and will no doubt be poised for a bigger role this season given some of the roster turnover. Benson is tied for the team lead in preseason goals with two.
Who’s on D:
19-year-old Stephen Shmoorkoff showed last night that he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty for his team. In two preseason games, Shmoorkoff has 12 penalty minutes and also chipped in with an assist on Cole Benson’s goal. Shmoorkoff could be considered a bit of a late bloomer as he dressed in just 34 games last season as an 18-year-old on a very stacked Oil Kings blueline. But Shmoorkoff does a lot of the little things right, and could become a regular fixture on the Edmonton blueline this season.
Who’s in Goal:
16-year-old Patrick Dea was outstanding last night for Edmonton. Dea stopped 26 of the first 28 shots he faced, and kept the game within reach for his team until mid-way through the third period. Does Dea get another look tonight? Or will Derek Laxdal elect to start former Cougars goaltender Tyler Santos? The 19-year-old Santos stopped all 17 shots he faced in his first 30 minutes of preseason duty last weekend.
Discipline got the best of both teams last night, but unfortunately for Edmonton they were on the losing end of the special teams war. Edmonton surrendered three power play goals against, and will need to cut down on that number significantly tonight if they want to leave with a split.
Mark Holick’s Prince George Cougars come into tonight’s contest boasting a three game preseason winning streak. The victories are surely nice, but perhaps the most impressive thing about the Cougars to date is not ‘that’ they’re winning but more ‘how’ they’re winning. Tonight they’ll look to increase that streak to four games and carry forward that confidence into the final week of the preseason.
Who’s Up Front:
When the Prince George Cougars selected Jansen Harkins second overall in 2012, they knew they were going to get a special player. Harkins has wasted little time in proving them right. In three preseason games, Harkins has a goal and seven assists, which puts him at the top of the WHL in preseason scoring through three games. Harkins had three assists in last night’s game, and did a lot of things away from the puck which helped his team. Another big night from Harkins could mean another ‘W’ for the Cougars tonight.
Who’s on D:
Raymond Grewal played an outstanding game at both ends for the Cougars in last night’s game. On the offensive side he chipped in with two assists, and on the defensive side he made a number of smart and savvy plays that prevented scoring chances and goals for Edmonton. Grewal is entering his draft year, and at age 18 he’ll be one of the ‘go-too’ guys on the backend for the Cougars – Especially if he continues to play with that type of energy at both ends.
Who’s in Goal:
18-year-old Brett Zarowny continues to perform well in the preseason. For a second straight game, Zarowny stopped 20 of 21 shots faced, and has a goals-against-average of 1.00 through two full starts which is tops in the WHL. Zarowny didn’t have to make a ton of ‘Grade A’ saves, but was steady when called upon and did what he had to do to lead his team to victory. Ty Edmonds may get a look in net tonight to give Zarowny a rest, but in any case the Cougars have two very capable goaltenders that are playing well.
Through their first three preseason games the Cougars have scored 17 times. A big key for the Cougars tonight will be finding a way to maintain their offensive consistency. Teams will go through highs and lows offensively during the course of a season, but the more offensive confidence that the Cougars can build from the preseason, the better. If the Cougars can tack on another four or five goals tonight, they’re goaltending has been solid enough that it should be enough to give them their fourth straight victory in the preseason.
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