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GAME PREVIEW: GM #30 Cougars at Portland Winterhawks

COUGARS LOOK FOR WEEKEND SPLIT IN PORTLAND

The Prince George Cougars (11-15-1-2) look for a weekend split against the Portland Winterhawks (17-10-0-2) tonight at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Across at the Moda Center last night, it was the Winterhawks taking the weekend opener 5-2. The ‘Hawks scored twice on the power-play and once short-handed. The Cougars got two power-play goals from Josh Maser and Vladislav Mikhalchuk. After tonight, these two teams don’t meet again until March.

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COUGARS PRE-SCOUT: Tonight, the Cougars look to end a three-game road losing streak. Tonight’s game is game two of a five-game pre-Christmas break road trip that ends December 16th against the Giants. After the Christmas break, it’s six-straight on the road, starting December 28th in Seattle. Their next home game isn’t until January 11th against the Kelowna Rockets. The Cougars come into tonight’s game sitting fifth in the B.C. Division, one point back of the fourth place Kamloops Blazers and third place Victoria Royals. The Cougars have lost five of their last six games and three of their last 10. This weekend is the Cougars only two regular season games in Portland, as they face the Winterhawks in Prince George on March 8th & 9th to wrap-up the season series. The Cougars were 1-3-0-0 against the Winterhawks last season, wining 3-0 on the road on October 1st, 2017. They’ve since lost four-straight to the ‘Hawks dating back to last season. The Cougars are 4-6-1-0 on the road this season but have won just one of their last six road games (1-4-1-0). Their last road win was November 11th in Vancouver. The Cougars are 2-4-0-1 against the U.S. Division. Vladislav Mikhalchuk leads the Cougars in scoring with 23 points (9-14-23) in 29 games. He’s followed by Cole Moberg (7-11-18) and Josh Maser (9-8-17). Maser and Mikhalchuk are tied for the team goal-scoring lead, as each has nine goals. Taylor Gauthier leads the Cougars in games played (22), minutes played (1283), wins (7) and saves (588). Isaiah DiLaura leads the Cougars in goals-against average (3.07) and save percentage (.902). Both DiLaura and Gauthier each have one shutout. Ilijah Colina has four points (2-2-4) in his last three games. Vladislav Mikhalchuk (5-1-6) has six points in his last five games. Josh Maser(2-2-4) had four points in his last two games. . The Cougars power-play is 5-23 in the last five games, surrendering two short-handed goals, including a five-on-three goal last night. The Cougars penalty-kill is 17-23 in the last five games. The Cougars are 2-5-0-0 in their last seven games in Portland.

WINTERHAWKS PRE-SCOUT: The Winterhawks have won their last three games, all at home, outscoring their opponents 23-6. The Winterhawks sit second in the U.S. Division with 34 points but they’re 11 points back of the first place Everett Silvertips. The Winterhawks nemesis this year has been the ‘Tips. In seven games against their U.S. Division rival, the Winterhawks are just 2-4-0-1. They’re 15-6-0-1 against the rest of the league. The Winterhawks may have the best duo in the WHL in Cody Glass and Joachim Blichfeld. The two have combined for a staggering 98 points in 25 games together. Blichfeld, the 20-year-old Danish forward, leads the team in scoring with 55 points (26-29-54), closely followed by Glass who has 53 (12-41-53). Glass shares the WHL lead in assists with 41 . Blichfeld is property of the San Jose Sharks and Glass has the distinction of being the Vegas Golden Knights’ first ever draft pick. He was taken sixth overall in the 2017 NHL draft. Third in team scoring is Reece Newkirk who has 31 points (16-15-31) in 29 games. Their highest-scoring defenceman is 20-year-old Jared Freadrich. The former Victoria Royal has 24 points (3-21-24) in 28 games. Shane Farkas has been the workhorse in goal for the Winterhawks, playing in 27 of the Winterhawks 29 games. Farkas is 16-8-0-2, sporting a 2.79 goals-against average and owns a .901 save percentage. His partner is 16-year-old rookie Dante Giannuzzi, who’s played in three games this season. The Winterhawks are 12-5-0-0 at home this season, winning four of their last five home games. Their power-play is 8-18 in the last five games but an impressive 7-10 in the last three games. Their penalty-kill is 22-26 in the last five games, scoring two short-handed goals. They’ve surrendered power-play goals in three-straight.

COUGARS LEADERS

Goals: (9) Josh Maser, Vladislav Mikhalchuk

Assists: (14) Vladislav Mikhalchuk

Points: (23) Vladislav Mikhalchuk

Power-Play Goals: (4)  Vladislav Mikhalchuk

Short-handed Goals: (1) Jackson LeppardTyson Upper

PIMS: (71) Austin Crossley

 

PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS

Goals: (26) Joachim Blichfeld.

Assists: (4041 Cody Glass

Points: (55) Joachim Blichfeld. 

Power-Play Goals: (11) Jake Gricius

Short-handed Goals: (2) Cody Glass, Reece Newkirk

PIMS: (43) John Ludvig

 

COUGARS FOCUS

  1. Push Back: The Cougars need to show some jam tonight. They looked good in chunks of last night’s game. They had a good first 15-minutes of the first and a solid third period but it wasn’t consistent throughout. When they did press the Winterhawks, got physical with them, they created turnovers and chances. They NEED to have that bite tonight. Play with a chip on their shoulder.
  2. Puck Management: Last night the Cougars’ mistakes ended up in the back of their net. The encouraging thing is most of them were preventable or correctable going forward. The three-on-five short-handed goal was a backbreaker in that game, as the Cougars lost the puck in the offensive zone and the Winterhawks pounced. The Winterhawks thrive on creating turnovers and capitalizing in transition. The Cougars have to make a point of forcing the Winterhawks to earn their chances. They need to make them come 200 feet and not feed off the half court offence.
  3. Net Presence: The Cougars has their chances to open the scoring last night but missed on miss-fired on a couple of chances right around the Winterhawks net. They’re earning their opportunities, now they have to show some finish. Portland’s record is night and day compared to when they’re leading to when they’re playing from behind. The Cougars need to find their finish and make the Winterhawks chase.
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