Cougars Wrap Up Road Trip Tonight in Kelowna.
After a dramatic come-from-behind victory last night in Seattle, the Prince George Cougars will wrap up their four game road trip tonight in Kelowna against their B.C. Division rivals, the Kelowna Rockets. The Cougars are back at .500 and a win tonight would give them a 2-2 split on a very difficult road trip through Victoria, Seattle and Kelowna. The Cougars will be in tough though against a Rockets team that has earned points in eight of their nine games so far.
Ryan Huska's Kelowna Rockets come into tonight's game with a record of 6-1-0-2. They have earned points in two straight games, and are just two points shy of Victoria for the division lead. That said, Kelowna has played five fewer games than Victoria and are considered by many to be a lock to win the B.C. Division this season. Last season the Rockets were 4-0 against the Cougars at home, and 7-1 overall.
WHO'S UP FRONT:
Depth has always seems to be a major strength of the Rockets and so far through nine games that has certainly been the case. The Rockets have five forwards that are averaging a point-per-game. So far it's 18-year-old forward Tyson Baillie and 16-year-old forward Nick Merkley leading the charge with five goals and 13 points each.
WHO'S ON D:
The Kelowna Rockets also have three defenseman that are on a point-per-game pace to start the season. Second year d-man Riley Stadel leads all Rockets with seven goals, and is really fourished on the power play scoring six times with the extra man already this season.
WHO'S IN GOAL:
To the surprise of nobody, 20-year-old veteran Jordan Cooke has been 'lights out' for Kelowna to start the season. Cooke is 5-0 with a 2.09 goals-against-average and a whopping .934 save percentage. Cooke is backed up by 19-year-old Jackson Whislte who has struggled out of the gate, but was excellent last season going 15-2-1-0.
The Kelowna Rockets are an incredibly difficult team to beat anywhere, but especially at Prospera Place where so far they have yet to lose a game in regulation. Last season Kelowna was 31-5 on home ice and as previously mentioned were a perfect 4-0 against the Cougars in Kelowna.
Mark Holick's Prince George Cougars head into tonight's matchup with a 6-6-0-1 record through 13 games in 2013-2014. After two losses earlier this week in Victoria, the Cougars responded nicely with a dramatic shootout victory over Seattle. Were they perfect last night in Kent? Absolutely not. But they showed strong resolve and found a way to win in a very tough building.
WHO'S UP FRONT:
Offensively for Prince George nobody is hotter than 18-year-old forward Chase Witala. Witala has five goals in his past five games, and has nine points over his past six games. Since being united with Troy Bourke and Alex Forsberg, Chase Witala has flourished, and hopefully he's got a few more goals up his sleeve this evening.
WHO'S ON D:
Though he's still looking for his first WHL goal, 18-year-old defenceman Joseph Carvalho continues to quietly put up points from the back end. Carvalho has five assists this season and has tallied three points in his past five games while providing valuable minutes at both ends for Mark Holick. Carvalho has had some great chances to score in recent games, and perhaps tonight is the night where he notches his first.
WHO'S IN GOAL:
Another game and another strong performance from 17-year-old rookie Ty Edmonds. Last night in Seattle Edmonds allowed four goals on 44 shots, but made some stunning saves to keep his team close when they trailed. Add the fact that he stopped seven pucks in overtime and then five of six shootout attempts, and you've got a goaltender that continues to pay calmly and confidently throughout the month of October.
The biggest factor for the Cougars tonight has to be confidence. Last night they were down by two goals with less than three minutes remaining. It would have been easy for the Cougars to fold the tent, but instead they decided to keep the pedal down. Klarc Wilson and Troy Bourke scored 1:50 apart and the Cougars escaped Seattle with two crucial points. 1-2 on a road trip looks a lot better than 0-2, and hopefully last night's success can further translate into a strong outing tonight against a very good Kelowna Rockets team.
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