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Game Preview: GM #54 Cougars at Vancouver Giants

THE SEASON: The Prince George Cougars franchise is in their 25th season in the Western Hockey League. The Cougars record is 16-31-4-2 through 53 games this season. The Cougars sit fifth in the B.C. Division, eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and are 0-7-3-0 in their last 10 games.

LAST GAME: The Cougars lost their 12th-straight Friday, dropping a 4-3 decision the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place. Josh Curtis scored twice in the first period along with Cole Moberg. Taylor Gauthier started but left the game due to injury in the third period. Prospect Tyler Brennan made his WHL debut in place of the injured Gauthier. Despite the loss, the Cougars finish with a 6-2-1-0 against the Rockets in nine games.

COACHING CHANGE: Thursday, the Cougars announced they relieved Richard Matvichuk of his head coaching duties. General Manager Mark Lamb assumes the role as head coach on an interim basis. Director of Player Development, Nick Drazenovic, has been promoted as an Assistant Coach and will join Mark Lamb and Associate Coach Steve O’Rourke on the Cougars’ bench. In three seasons behind the Cougars’ bench, Matvichuk compiled an 85-89-12-10 record, guiding the team to a B.C. Division pennant and a franchise-best 45-wins in the 2016-17 season.

VERSUS VANCOUVER: 3-0 L vs. VAN (Oct 5th), 3-2 L vs. VAN (Oct 6th), 2-1 L at VAN (Nov 10th), 1-0 W at VAN (Nov 11th), 2-1 L at VAN (Dec 16th). 4-2 L at VAN (Feb 2nd), 4-2 L vs. VAN (Feb 5th), 4-3 OTL vs. VAN (Feb 6th), at VAN (Feb 10th).

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The Cougars roster sits at 22 players (2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen, 13 forwards). The rosters include seven players selected in the WHL Bantam Draft, eight players via trade, four signed players and two selected from the CHL Import Draft. A breakdown by region includes eight players from B.C., seven players from Alberta, two from Saskatchewan, one player from Manitoba, two from the United States and one from Belarus and one from the Czech Republic. There are 16 WHL veterans and six WHL rookies.

NUMBERS: Vladislav Mikhalchuk (4-3-7) has seven points in his six-game point streak. He joined the 20-goal club for the first time in his career, with his second period goal Wednesday. He has a team-best six points (2-4-6) against Vancouver. Ryan Schoettler (0-5-5) has five points in the last six games. Schoettler leads the team in assists with 23. The Cougars have scored a power-play goal in six-straight games. Over their last six games, the power-play is clicking at 40 percent (8/20). The penalty-kill has been humming along too, operating at 91 percent in the last five games.

GAUTHIER, MOBERG RANKED: Taylor Gauthier and Cole Moberg were both listed in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings. Gauthier is ranked fifth among Northern American Goaltenders and Moberg is 175thamong Northern American Skaters. The pair are among 48 WHL players listed in the midterm rankings.

 

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS- COUGARS REGULAR SEASON LEADERS- GIANTS
GOALS: (20) Josh Maser, Vladislav Mikhalchuk GOALS: (21) Davis Koch, Bowen Byram
ASSISTS: (23) Ryan Schoettler ASSISTS: (33) Davis Koch
POINTS: (41) Vladislav Mikhalchuk POINTS: (54) Davis Koch
POINTS VERSUS: (6) Vladislav Mikhalchuk POINTS VERSUS: (8) Bowen Byram
POWER-PLAY GOALS: (9) Vladislav Mikhalchuk POWER-PLAY GOALS: (12) Milos Roman
SHORT-HANDED GOALS: (1) Jackson Leppard, Tyson Upper SHORT-HANDED GOALS: (1) Three-way tie

 

LINE UP: Taylor Gauthier has been cleared to play and will start this afternoon. Gauthier had to leave Friday’s game in the third period due to an upper-body injury. Ilijah Colina (personal), Isaiah DiLaura (upper-body) and Joel Lakusta (upper-body) are scratched. DiLaura will be ready to return to action next week. Vancouver Giants’ defenceman Dallas Hines (lower-body) has missed the last four games. Forward Dawson Holt (lower-body) hasn’t played since January 26th; he’s listed as week-to-week. Trent Miner got the win in net Friday against the Kamloops Blazers. Do the Cougars face David Tendeck once again?

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