Cougars Pats Preview.
Tonight in Regina the Prince George Cougars will play their first of six consecutive games on the road. The eastern road swing is something that Western Conference teams only get to enjoy once every two seasons, and for the five Saskatchewan-born Prince George Cougars this is a chance to play in front of friends and family and a chance for their teammates to rally around them and put their best foot forward. The Cougars remain seven points back of the Tri-City Americans, and points are certainly going to be at a premium during this road trip, starting tonight in Regina.
Malcolm Cameron’s Regina Pats are coming into this weekend with the sixth best record in the Eastern Conference. At 24-20-3-2, the Pats find themselves a mere four points out of a home playoff seed. That said, they have lost two straight and are 5-4-1-0 in their past 10 games altogether.
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Washington Capitals prospect Chandler Stephenson is having himself a heck of a season for the Regina Pats. With 20 goals and 57 points, Stephenson leads the Pats in scoring, and is one of four different Regina Pats forwards who are managing at least a point-per-game this season.
WHO’S ON D:
Defensively the Regina Pats have gotten excellent an excellent contribution at both ends of the ice from 20-year-old Jesse Zgraggen. Not only has Zgraggen trumped his previous season high for points already this season, but also he is a +12 and has helped provide some veteran stability on an otherwise fairly young back end for Regina.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
The Regina Pats have two very capable netminders in Daniel Wapple and Dawson MacAuley. Both are enjoying breakout seasons in the WHL and both provide their team with a great shot at winning on most nights. MacAuley has dressed in 39 games this season and is 20-13-3-0 with a 3.47 goals-against-average and a .893 save percentage. Wapple is 15-11-1-0 this season with a 2.99 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage.
Though he’s battled through injuries this season, it’s impossible to ignore the effectiveness of 18-year-old Calgary Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk. The Calgary native has 18 goals and 41 points in just 35 games this season, and on most nights is a lock to hit the score sheet. Keeping Klimchuk in check is a top priority tonight for Prince George.
Mark Holick’s Prince George Cougars will kick off their six game road trip with an overall record of 18-24-2-5. They are seven points ahead of their pace from a season ago, and are looking really good to surpass their 21 win total from last season too. All of that is good news, but the bad news is that the Cougars are still seven points out of a playoff spot in what has proven to be an exceptionally difficult Western Conference. This eastern trip should provide the Cougars with an opportunity to win some games, and it will be important for them to build some confidence from Tuesday’s win against Lethbridge.
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Cougars captain Troy Bourke has already surpassed his point total (50) from last season thanks to a goal and an assist Tuesday against Lethbridge. Bourke is only five goals away from 20, and five points away from matching his previous season high for points. Lately Bourke has shined alongside Jordan Tkatch and Jansen Harkins, and tonight he’ll look to continue his strong play. He has 14 points in nine January games.
WHO’S ON D:
18-year-old defenceman Marc McNulty has had an excellent start to the month of January. The Detroit Red Wings prospect has five goals and 11 points in just nine games, and continues to set himself up for a season high for goals and points. McNulty will be counted on to provide some big minutes in all situations again tonight, and hopefully his offensive success can continue.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Odds are good that the Cougars will give Adam Beukeboom the nod in goal tonight against his former team. Beukeboom is 2-2 since joining the Cougars, and for the most part has done a solid job when called upon. Hopefully tonight he can stay focused and calm and stick it to his former team in a positive way. But in order to do so he’ll need to stop the pucks that he can see, control his rebounds and stay within himself.
For five Prince George Cougars, this Saskatchewan road trip provides them with the rare chance to play in front of friends and family on their home soil. Because of WHL travel regulations, teams from the West only travel out to the far East division once every two seasons. For Jordan Tktach of Prud’Homme, SK this will be the first game he’s played In Saskatchewan since October 2011. Hopefully this can be a rallying point for the Cougars who will want to help the Saskatchewan players to victory in their home province.
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