GAME PREVIEW: GM #25 Cougars at Tri-City Americans
COUGARS START TWO-GAME U.S. DIVISION ROAD TRIP IN KENNEWICK
The Prince George Cougars (10-11-1-2) make their first cross-border trip this season, as they start a two-game U.S. Division road trip tonight in Kennewick, Washington against the Tri-City Americans (13-9-0-0). The Cougars split their two games last weekend, winning 5-3 over Regina Friday but dropping a 4-1 decision to Saskatoon on Saturday. The Americans split their two games last weekend too, losing 5-1 to Kamloops on Friday but bounced-back on Saturday to edge Calgary 3-2 in a shootout.
COUGARS PRE-SCOUT: Tonight, is the third of four games against the Americans. The Cougars are 0-1-0-1 against the Americans, after losing a midweek double-header in Prince George in late October. The Cougars are third place in the B.C. Division, one point back of the Victoria Royals who sit second. The Royals do have four-games in hand. The Cougars are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday. Mike MacLean scored the Cougars only goal, just over two minutes into the first period, that ending an 18-game goalless drought for him. Taylor Gauthier took the loss in goal, stopping 24 of 28 Saskatoon shots. The Cougars ended a five-game home stand with a 2-3-0-0 record and now start of stretch of playing seven of their next nine on the road heading into the Christmas break. The Cougars are 4-3-1-1 on the road this season and have won three of their last five road games; points in four of their last five. Vladislav Mikhalchuk leads the Cougars in scoring with 17 points (4-13-17), followed by Cole Moberg (7-8-15) and Josh Maser (7-6-13). Maser and Moberg are tied for the team goal-scoring lead, as each player has seven goals. Maser, Moberg and Josh Curtis each have two points against the Americans this season. Gauthier leads the Cougars in games played (18), minutes played (1045), wins (6) and saves (494). Isaiah DiLaura leads the team in goals-against average (2.93) and save percentage (.910). Both DiLaura and Gauthier each have one shutout. The power-play is 3/22 in the last five games and is 1/10 against Tri-City this season. The Penalty-kill is 20/25 in the last five games and 6/8 against Tri-City. The Cougars are 5-6-1-1 after a loss this season. they’re 3-3-0-0 in their last six games in Kennewick.
AMERICANS PRE-SCOUT: Tonight, is the third game of a four-game home stand for the Americans. The Americans just finished an 11-game stretch on the road, winning seven of those 11 games, They recently returned from a six-game East Division road trip, going 2-4-0-0. They’re in the middle of stretch that sees them play 15 of 22 games on the road before the Christmas break. The Americans made a big splash in the trade market on Monday, acquiring defenceman Aaron Hyman from the Regina Pats, for forward Brett Clayton and a third-round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. Hyman immediately becomes the Americans’ highest scoring defenceman with 24 points (5-19-24); he’s sixth in scoring by defencemen in the WHL. The Americans are fourth in the U.S. Division, three points back of the Spokane Chiefs. Nolan Yaremko leads the Americans in scoring with 27 points (11-16-27), followed by Isaac Johnson (8-17-25) and Aaron Hyman (5-19-24). Parker AuCoin leads the Americans in goal-scoring with 12 and has a team-best two goals against the Cougars. Yaremko leads the Americans in scoring against the Cougars with three points (1-2-3). Beck Warm has been the workhorse in goal for the Americans, making 15-straight starts dating back to October 16th. Rookie Talyn Boyko has only played 20-minutes in last six-weeks. Krystof Hrabik is the leading rookie scorer for the Americans with 14 points (6-8-14). That’s eighth-best in the WHL amongst rookies.
Goals: (7) Josh Maser, Cole Moberg
Assists: (13) Vladislav Mikhalchuk
Points: (17) Vladislav Mikhalchuk
Power-Play Goals: (3) Cole Moberg
Short-handed Goals: (1) Jackson Leppard, Tyson Upper
PIMS: (59) Austin Crossley
Goals: (12) Parker AuCoin
Assists: (19) Aaron Hyman
Points: (27) Nolan Yaremko
Power-Play Goals: (5) Nolan Yaremko
Short-handed Goals: (0)
PIMS: (35) Dom Schmiemann, Nolan Yaremko
- ROAD WARRIORS: The Cougars have been very comfortable on the road and that shouldn’t change tonight. The Cougars are 4-3-1-1 away from the CN Centre and have won three of their last five road games. They also split the two games in Kennewick last year and have won three of their last six games at the Toyota Centre, dating back five seasons. Why shouldn’t they feel good about tonight’s match up? A win tonight to start the road trip would give this team a big lift.
- DISCIPLINE: May be a recycled word but the Cougars have to cut down on their penalties. In the last two games alone, they were short-handed 12-times; that’s just too much. Though the penalty-kill has been good this season, ranked seventh, they have to get back to playing not only hard-nosed by smart. If it becomes a parade to the penalty-box, that taxes certain players with extra minutes and that doesn’t allow the coaches to use their full bench. The Cougars want to set themselves up for the back half of the double-header tomorrow. How do you keep fresh legs? Stay out of the box.
- SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT: You couldn’t question the Cougars effort on Saturday but their offence left something to be desired. They only had 22-shots on net which was their second-lowest total this season. Associate Coach Steve O’Rourke said on Saturday’s post-game show that the staff was pressing the players to shoot more and from everywhere. It’s about quantity not quality tonight. Get shots to the net and get to rebounds. Beck Warm has played A LOT for Tai-City. Can the Cougars tire him out?