Cougars Wheat Kings Preview.
It was a forgettable start last night to the Prince George Cougars Eastern road trip. Mark Holick's team stumbled out of the gate and were on the wrong side of an 8-0 setback to the Regina Pats last night. Luckily the Cougars don't have long to stew on their recent result, as tonight they will be right back at it in Brandon against a Wheat Kings team that is right in the thick of things in the Western Conference standings.
With a record of 25-17-5-0, the Brandon Wheat Kings have had a strong bounce-back season after missing the playoffs a year ago. The Wheat Kings have made some shrewd moves over the past handful of months, and have set themselves up nicely not only for this season, but for many seasons to come. The Wheat Kings have earned at least one point in eight of their past 10 games, and they have gone four straight games wihtout a regulation loss.
WHO'S UP FRONT:
Second year forward John Quenneville is having a terrific sophomore campaign with the Brandon Wheat Kings. His 21 goals has him second in team goal scoring, but his 45 points in 46 games is tops on the team. The draft-eligible forward has scored eighth power play goals and will certainly be a difficult prospect to pass up on come the NHL Draft in June.
WHO'S ON D:
The greatest strength of the Brandon Wheat Kings bar-none is their top notch defense-corps led by 2013 first rounder Ryan Pulock. Selected 15th overall in the 2013 draft by the New York Islanders, Pulock has been outstanding in all areas this season for Brandon. His 14 goals and 40 points is tops among all Brandon defenders and ninth in league scoring for defencemen. He along with Eric Roy and Ryan Pilon give the Wheat Kings some notable depth on the back-end.
WHO'S IN GOAL:
The tandem of Jordan Papirny and Curtis Honey gives Brandon a strong chance to win on a nightly basis. While neither goaltender boasts staggering numbers, both have complimented each other nicely. The younger Papirny has started in 10 more games than Honey, and in all likelihood will get the nod tongiht at home given his recent strong play.
Depth. The Brandon Wheat Kings don't have that one top-flight elite scorer, but instead they carry a handful of players that are all hovering around that point-per-game pace. it will be important for the Cougars to be continuously aware of who is on the ice and when for Brandon. Guys like Jace Hawryluk, Richard Nejezchleb, Rihards Bukarts and Peter Quenneville can all make you pay if you aren't careful.
Mark Holick's team continues their six game Eastern road trip tonight in Brandon against a Wheat Kings team that they defeated last season in their only meeting. Lately it has either been feast or famine for the Cougars. On some nights they can defeat anybody in the league while on other nights they get beaten 8-0. The season of highs and lows continued last night with a tough loss on the road. Tonight the Cougars will need to dig deep and bounce back with a positive performance. Every win counts considering how well the Tri-City Americans are playing as of late.
WHO'S UP FRONT:
Tuesday night in Letbridge every Cougars forward did something positive to help the team win. Last night in Regina it was hard to find a forward that did anything positive. The task won't be any easier tonight for Todd Fiddler and company as they face a Brandon Wheat Kings team that boasts three excellent defencemen. From the drop of the puck tonight the Cougar forwards need to skate hard and pay the price to win. If they do that, they'll give themselves a chance.
WHO'S ON D:
Last night's game was equally disappointing for the Cougars defense who struggled all night long to contain Regina's big and rangy forwards. When the Cougars defense are at their best they are playing a simple and smart game. Tonight it will be important for the Cougar defenders to have strong communication and discipline. They've shown that they are capable, and tonight should be better all around for this team defensively.
WHO'S IN GOAL:
Neither Adam Beukeboom or Ty Edmonds will look back at last night's game fondly. Beukeboom allowed four goals on 12 shots while Edmonds allowed four goals on 29. Odds are good that Edmonds will start tonight considering that he's a Manitoba boy, and if that's the case he will need to try and regain some of that early season form that made him so successful in the early stages. Edmonds has dressed in 40 of the Cougars 50 games this seaosn, which is a staggering amount considering how young he is, but he's shown that he's capable, and hopefully a game in front of friends and family will help motivate Edmonds to help possibly steal a win for the Cougars.
Discipline is going to be a major MUST for the Cougars tonight. Last night in Regina the Cougars had eight penalties that they needed to kill off coupled with a bunch of major fighting penalties that totalled 88 minutes. Brandon's power play is the second best in the entire WHL, so giving them extra chances will do much more harm than good. If the Cougars can keep it to five-on-five or better and limit Brandon's scoring chances, they will put themselves in a position to win.
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