PREVIEW: COUGARS VS CHIEFS (GAME #59)
A puzzling home stand took another weird turn for the Cougars yesterday afternoon at CN Centre. Despite a dominant first period and a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes, the Cougars surrendered three unanswered power play goals against in what would end up being a 4-3 regulation victory for the Spokane Chiefs. The loss stings for the Cougars given that both the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kamloops Blazers also dropped their games, which means the Cats were unable to take advantage of a major opportunity for some added cushion in the standings. Now tonight the Cougars will attempt to bounce back and avoid their first three game losing streak of the season when they clash with a Chiefs team playing their fifth game in a span of seven nights.
Road Record: 12-13-1-1
Last Game: A 4-3 victory yesterday against the Cougars
Goals For/Goals Against: 187 GF/200 GA
Power Play: 23.1% (7th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 76.7% (15th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kailer Yamamoto (49GP – 32G – 40A – 72PTS), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (56GP – 31G – 28A – 59PTS), Keanu Yamamoto (56GP – 22G – 36A – 58PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Kailer Yamamoto: The talented Chiefs forward had a goal and an assist in yesterday’s game and was named first star. The draft eligible forward was especially dangerous on the power play and was a major catalyst in the Chiefs offensive attack. Keeping him in check will be a major key in the rematch tonight for Prince George.
Keanu Yamamoto: The older Yamamoto brother led all Chiefs in scoring last night with a goal and two assists. The 20-year-old has already reached a new season high in points with 58, and needs just one goal to reach a new career high. Currently he’s sitting at 22 goals on the season.
WHO’S ON D:
Ty Smith: The rookie defenceman played a TON for Spokane yesterday afternoon and earned an assist on the game winning goal. Smith is a very fluid skater with terrific offensive instincts, and he’s more than capable of defending his own zone. He’s tied for the team lead in scoring among defencemen with three goals and 21 assists for 24 points.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Dawson Weatherill/Jayden Sittler: Full credit to rookie Dawson Weatherill who brushed off a tough first period and ended up with 39 saves on 42 shots faced en route to his 11th victory of the season. Did yesterday’s game do enough to warrant him another start? Or will veteran Jayden Sittler get the call tonight? Sittler is 13-11-2-1.
Special Teams: The Chiefs were three-for-10 on the power play and five-for-five killing penalties, those two statistics were the difference in yesterday’s game. If the Chiefs can put forth another strong special teams showing they’re going to give themselves every opportunity to secure the sweep of the Cougars.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 17-10-1-1
Last Game: A 4-3 home loss to Spokane yesterday
Goals For/Goals Against: 200 GF/163 GA
Power Play: 16.1% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (57GP – 25G – 35A – 60PTS), Jansen Harkins (50GP – 17G – 39A – 56PTS), Brad Morrison (56GP – 20G – 28A – 48PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jansen Harkins: The Winnipeg Jets prospect returned to the Cougars lineup yesterday and made a big impact netting a goal and an assist in the first period. Harkins has been really dialed in this season, and is now just a single point shy of matching last seasons offensive totals. A big night from Harkins again tonight would go along way.
Radovan Bondra: In 16 games in a Cougars unfiorm, Radovan Bondra has now struck for eight goals and eight assists for 16 points. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him since the January 10th trade, and once again looked very strong alongside Jansen Harkins and Colby McAuley yesterday.
WHO’S ON D:
Tate Olson: The Vancouver Canucks prospect got the Cougars on the scoreboard yesterday with a great shot from the left point. He now has seven goals on the season which is second only to Brendan Guhle among Cougars defencemen. Defensively Olson and fellow veterans Sam Ruopp and Shane Collins are going to need to carry the mail today as they look to keep the Yamamotos, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Hudson Elynuik in check.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Nick McBride: With five straight victories to his credit, Nick McBride will get the nod tonight for Prince George. His record now sits at 11-4-1-0 and his save percentage is now just slightly beneath .900. A major key to Nick McBride’s game is confidence and right now he’s ‘feeling it’ for the Cougars. Tonight he’ll take aim at win number 12 of his season.
Team First: Yesterday the Cougars played 20 awesome minutes before completely taking their foot off the gas pedal. Tonight it has to be a complete effort with total ‘buy in’ from everybody. The Cougars haven’t lost more than two in a row all season, and they’ll need a victory at home tonight in order to keep that stat going. So far on the home stand the Cougars are 1-3-0-1. A win tonight would be a welcomed relief before the Cats head on the road to both Kelowna and Kamloops on the weekend.