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Preview: Cougars Entertain Hitmen at CN Centre

Calgary Hitmen (1-4-1-0) vs. Prince George Cougars (2-3-2-0)

CN Centre 7 pm

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The Prince George Cougars look for their first home win tonight when they face the Calgary Hitmen. Through four games the Cougars have two points from the CN Centre, after back-to-back overtime losses to the Kelowna Rockets on Thanksgiving weekend. The Cougars lost their opening weekend double-header against Spokane three weeks ago.

Dillon Dube had a goal and four points for the Rockets in the win Saturday night, including scoring the overtime winner with just 43-seconds left in the OT period. One night earlier it was Kole Lind scoring not only the game-tying goal but the OT-winner too. Jared Bethune and Kody McDonald each had a goal and four points during the weekend series against the Rockets and McDonald has points in four straight games.

Last season the Cougars were 22-10-1-3 at home and started the season by winning their first four home games.

Tuesday’s game is the first of just two against the Hitmen and the first one in Prince George since October 2015; the Hitmen are 0-3-0-0 in their last three trips to the CN Centre. Last year these two non-divisional foes split their two regular season meetings. In October of last year, Calgary edged the Cougars 3-2 in overtime, but the Cougars returned to Calgary and scored a 5-4 win at the Saddledome in January; Ty Edmonds made 47-saves in that victory. Nikita Popugaev (4-1-5) and Radovan Bondra (2-3-5) led the Cougars in scoring against Calgary. Matteo Gennaro (1-2-3), Andrei Grishakov (1-2-3) and Vladislav Yeryomenko (0-3-3) were the top three scorers for Calgary against Prince George; all three are back this year.

The Cougars roster currently sits at 26 players: three goalies, eight defencemen and 15 forwards. Prince George recalled 18-year-old defenceman Peter Kope Monday from the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The move was necessitated after defencemen Josh Anderson (upper-body) and Jonas Harkins (lower-body) were sidelined with injuries on the weekend.

The Calgary Hitmen won’t be without forward Beck Malenstyn for the foreseeable future. The Washington Capitals prospect suffered an injury against Saskatoon on September 30th and his timeline is “TBD” on the WHL’s weekly injury report. Calgary is also without forward Matt Dorsey who’s listed as “out indefinitely.” Both have upper-body injuries. Malentsyn was going to be key piece to the Hitmen’s offence, as he had 32 goals last season, the second most goals of their returning group form last season. Calgary did get a boost with the return of defenceman Jake Bean last week from the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season he was a point per-game player on the Calgary blue-line, picking up eight goals and 45 points in 43 games.

The WHL’s overage deadline is today and the Cougars’ currently have four 20-year-olds on their roster; they’ll need to be down to three before tonight’s game.

The Kryski family will have a heavy interest in tonight’s game. The Cougars’ Max Kryski faces older brother and Calgary Hitmen forward Jake Kryski tonight. 17-year-old Max Kryski is in his first WHL season and the rookie forward has played in four games thus far. 19-year-old Jake Kryski has a goal and four points in six games with the Hitmen and is in his fourth season in the WHL, splitting last season between Kelowna and Calgary; he made his WHL debut with Kamloops in the 2013-14 season as an affiliate.


Head-to-Head

Hitmen

Record: 1-4-1-0 Home: 1-2-0-0 Away: 0-2-1-0
PP: 3-18 (16.7%) PK: 22-24 (91.7%) Vs. 0-0
GF:17 GA: 21 Diff: -4
Division: 6th Conference: 11th Overall: 20th

Cougars

Record: 2-3-2-0 Home: 0-2-2-0 Away: 2-1-0-0
PP: 7-29 (24.1%) PK: 19-24 (79.2%) Vs. 0-0
GF:22 GA: 27 Diff: -4
Division: 3rd Conference: 6th Overall: 12th

Did You Know?

The Calgary Hitmen have been surrendered the opening goal in all seven games this season. The Cougars have been scored on first in five of their first seven games. A good start will be an area of focus for both teams tonight.

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