Tonight… Tonight, the Prince George Cougars wrap up their eight-game season series with the Victoria Cougars and they look to put to an end a four-game winless streak. The Cougars are coming off a hard-fought 4-3 overtime loss to the Royals Friday, and they’re 3-2-2-0 against the Royals this season. In their last four losses, two have been decided by just one goal, including Friday’s OT setback. The Cougars are 10-18-2-3 on the road and have lost four-straight away from the CN Centre. Their last road win coming February 17th in Kamloops. Victoria is 23-9-1-1 at home this season, owning the second-best home record in the Western Conference, but are just 1-4-0-0 in their last five games at Save on Foods Memorial Centre.
The Last Game… The Cougars lost their fourth-straight Friday, 4-3 in OT. Reid Perepeluk, Rhett Rhinehart and Josh Maser scored in the loss. Tavin Grant was named the game’s second star after stopping 39 of 43 shots. The Cougars trailed 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 early in the second, before rallying for three unanswered goals. Down 2-0, Perepeluk scored inside the final half-minute of the second period, then Rhinehart tied the game early in the third period. Maser grabbed the Cougars their first lead seven-minutes into the third, before the Royals tied it late. With the extra time loss, the Cougars now are 3-5-0-0 in overtime.
Season Series… Despite it being fifth versus second in the BC Division, these two teams match up very well, as the Cougars are 3-2-2-0 and the Royals 4-2-1-0 in seven games. The Cougars and Royals split two games at the CN Centre last weekend, with Prince George winning 2-1 in overtime on March 2nd, and the Royals bouncing back to win 7-3 the following night. They’ve split the first three head-to-head encounters, as it was the Cougars losing on December 10th, 5-4, but rebounding to win 5-4 on December 12th, in Prince George. After the Christmas break, the Cougars scored a 5-3 win in Victoria on December 27th, but the Royals rebounded to win 7-1 the next night. Victoria has now won back-to-back games against the Cougars after Friday’s win. Josh Maser leads the Cougars in scoring against Victoria, with six goals, including a hat-trick on December 10th, and has eight points in seven games. Matthew Phillips (5-7-12) and Tyler Soy (5-7-12) each have 12 points against the Cougars. Last season, these two BC Division rivals split the eight-game season series.
Draft Watch… Left-winger Jackson Leppard has caught the eye of NHL scouts, as the sophomore forward is ranked 95th among North American Skaters, in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings. The North Vancouver product is sixth in team scoring with 14 goals and 34 points in 64 games. Leppard is one of 43 WHL players to make the grade in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings. He recently reached a significant milestone, playing in his 100th career regular season game on Wednesday.
A Week of Firsts… This week, three Prince George Cougars rookies have scored their first WHL goals. Tuesday, 16-year-old Ethan Browne scored his first WHL goal against Portland. One night later, fellow 16-year-old Connor Bowie scored his first against the Winterhawks, and on Friday, 17-year-old Reid Perepeluk scored his first against Victoria in the second period.
A Royal Thorn in the Side… Ryan Schoettler loves playing the Victoria Royals. The Cougars defenceman has four goals and six points in 11 career games against Victoria. He has eight goals and 31 points in 123 career regular season games.