Cougars Hurricanes Preview
Tonight in Prince George, the Cougars continue their push to the post season with their lone matchup of the season against the struggling Lethbridge Hurricanes. For the Cougars it is of the utmost importance that they create some positive momentum for themselves, because after tonight's game they will be on the road for six straight. We've reached the point in the Cougars schedule where it's 'make or break' and the Cougars will look to inch back within five points of the eighth placed Tri-City Americans.
Drake Berehowsky's Letbhridge Hurricanes come into tonight's game having dropped four consecutive games. Their record of 9-34-2-3 has them ranked at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference. Very little has gone right for the Hurricanes this season, but by no means will tonight's game be a 'gimme' for Prince George. The Hurricanes are in town to play the role of spoiler, and you know that Berehowsky's team will use tonight's game as their own personal measuring stick to see where they are at when it comes to their Western Conference counterparts.
WHO'S UP FRONT:
During a season of drastic turmoil and change, it's nice to know that there are still some constants in place for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. 20-year-old winger (and co-captain) Brady Ramsay is playing in his final WHL season, and for the past four seasons has been a mainstay with the Hurricanes. With 11 goals and 29 points, Ramsay currently sits second in team scoring and is the only Hurricanes forward to have dressed in every game so far this season.
WHO'S ON D:
In each of his first three seasons in the WHL, Lethbridge defenceman Macoy Erkamps has either reached or surpassed the 20-point plateau offensively. That's not easy for a defenceman on a struggling team, yet this season Erkamps has once again provided some offense from the back end. This season Erkamps leads all Hurricanes defenceman with five goals and 23 points.
WHO'S IN GOAL:
Now that 20-year-old goaltender Corbin Boes is out of the picture, the Hurricanes goaltending has been left to the trio of Teagan Sacher, Jarrod Schamerhorn and Jonny Hogue. Of the three, Sacher has the best numbers, posting a 3-4-0-1 record with a 3.63 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage and one shutout.
Second year forward Tyler Wong has definitely turned some heads this season in southern Alberta. Wong leads the Hurricanes with 14 goals and has already doubled last season's point production and then some. That said, Wong has gone six games without a goal, and the Cougars will certainly need to try and keep Wong silenced yet again this evening. A breakout game from Wong would go a long way for Lethbridge on the road tonight.
Mark Holick's Prince George Cougars are taking aim at their 18th victory of the 2013-2014 season. To this point through 48 games, the Cougars are seven points ahead of their pace from last season, but are also seven points behind the Tri-City Americans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The truth of the matter is that in order for the Cougars to get into the playoffs they are going to need a winning streak of some sort and hopefully they can start that streak tonight at home against a Lethbridge team that hasn't won in Prince George since the 2009-2010 season.
WHO'S UP FRONT:
With 20 points in his last eight games, Todd Fiddler continues to climb the WHL scoring chart. Heading into action tonight, Fiddler sits 10th in league scoring with 27 goals and 58 points. Since joining the Cougars in early November, 2013 Fiddler has recorded a staggering five hat-tricks and has brought an element of offensive consistency to the Cougars that they haven't had since Brett Connolly in 2010-2011. Hopefully he's got a few more goals in the tank for tonight.
WHO'S ON D:
Defensively the Cougars are looking to bounce back after a disappointing weekend where they surrendered 15 goals against in two games against the Edmonton Oil Kings. Granted the Lethbridge Hurricanes don't have the skill and fire-power of Edmonton, but tonight is all about atonement for the Cougars d-corps. Can they exit their zone safely and quickly? Can they block shots and make life easier for the goaltender? Can they chip in offensively when called upon? These are all questions that will hopefully be answered in a positive fashion when all is said and done tonight.
WHO'S N GOAL:
Neither Ty Edmonds or Adam Beukeboom had a particularly successful weekend against the Oil Kings, and the starter for tonight's game is anything but a certainty. If the Cougars hope to catch Tri-City for eighth, the goaltending needs to get better. Mentally it has been a challenging stretch but there is still ample time and opportunity for one or both goaltenders to win some games and gain some confidence. The hardest working goaltender will play and tonight they Cougars will need either Edmonds or Beukeboom to give them a chance to win.
A major key for the Cougars tonight will be to build off of the positives from Saturday. Mark Holick said that Troy Bourke may have played the best game he's ever played under his watch. Fiddler's success speaks for itself, and despite the shootout loss there was a lot of 'good' to take away from Saturday. But now we need to see it again. From the drop of the puck the Cougars need to be the harder-working and harder-skating team. If they do this, they will give themselves every single opportunity to succeed.
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