Preview: Royals at Cougars (GM #31)

The Prince George Cougars look to take three out of a possible four points against the Victoria Royals tonight at the CN Centre. Victoria took the first of two on Sunday, winning in 5-4 in overtime after a late comeback in the final 20-minutes. That Royals win snapped the Cougars two-game streak and it was the Royals second-straight win after coming off a four-game winless skid.


Teddy Bear Toss Sunday was going according to plan for the Cougars, right up until the third period. They led 1-0 after one and 3-0 after two, before the Royals stormed out in the third period and scored four goals to push the game past regulation. Josh Maser scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal in the first period, then added two more in the second and third periods, to pick up his first career hat-trick. Jackson Leppard added a goal in the second period to put to an end his 11-game goal drought.

Victoria got third period goals from Matt Phillips, Jared Freadrich (2) and Dino Kambeitz to force OT. Phillips scored his second of the game, two-minutes into the extra frame, to seal the come-from behind win. Griffen Outhouse, the former Cariboo Cougar standout, stopped 30 of 34 shots for his 18th win.

Both teams made roster moves before Tuesday’s rematch. The Royals swinging a blockbuster trade with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and the Cougars tweaking their roster.

Monday, Victoria swung a deal with the Warriors, as the two teams swapped top-end talent. Victoria sent forward Ryan Peckford (99) and a fourth round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft to Moose Jaw, for forward Noah Gregor (98) and an eighth-round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft. Rarely do you see two top teams trade two top players for one another.

Peckford was on the top-line with Matt Phillips and Tyler Soy, and was third in team scoring at the time of the trade. Gregor, who was originally a draft pick of the Royals, had 36 points in 30 games with the Warriors this season, and is coming off back-to-back 20-goal plus seasons; he’s also a draft pick of the San Jose Sharks. More on that trade HERE.

Tuesday afternoon, the Cougars announced they’ve signed forward Nic Holowko, placed forward Brogan O’Brien on the Injured Reserve, and called up prospect Cole Beamin. Holowko, 20, started the season with the Kamloops Blazers before being put on 20-year-old waivers. He had three goals and four points in seven games with Kamloops prior to being released. Holowko is a veteran of over 200 games in the WHL between Seattle, Prince Albert and Kamloops.

O’Brien was put on the injured reserve after suffering a lower-body injury Sunday against the Royals; he’s listed as month-to-month. It was in the third period O’Brien took a knee-on-knee hit from Kade Jensen and he wasn’t able to return. Jensen was handed a five-minute major penalty and has subsequently been given a three-game suspension by the WHL office. At the time of his injury, O’Brien was fourth in team scoring with 10 goals and 21 points in 29 games.

Beamin, 16, is the Cougars second-round pick from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft and is the Alternate Captain of the Saskatoon Contacts in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. In 18 games this season, the 6’3, 2010-pound defenceman has a pair of goals and six points. Beamin was called up, after Captain Dennis Cholowski left for Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp in Ontario.

Both Holowko and Beamin will play tonight, with Beamin making his WHL debut. Holowko will start on a line with Ethan O’Rourke and Vladislav Mikhalchuk, and Beamin will be paired with Jack Sander.

Tavin Grant will get the nod between the pipes and he’s looking to bounce back after his last start against Vancouver last Friday. This season, Grant is 7-8-2-0, with a 3.19 goals-against average, and sports a .903 save percentage.

Griffen Outhouse has started the last eight games for the Royals and with an afternoon game Sunday, followed by a full day off Monday, he may start once more tonight. Outhouse has played the most minutes out of any goaltender in the WHL. His backup, Dean McNabb, last started November 14th. McNabb had a relief appearance last Friday against Kootenay and before that December 2nd in Lethbridge.


Cougars                                   Royals

Josh Maser 3-0-3 Igor Martynov 0-3-3
Brogan O’Brien 0-2-2 Tyler Soy 0-3-3
Jackson Leppard 1-0-1 Jared Freadrich 2-0-2
Jared Bethune 0-1-1 Matt Phillips 2-02
Dennis Cholowski 0-1-1 Dino Kambeitz 1-0-1
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