Preview: Silvertips at Cougars (GM #19)
Last Game: The Prince George Cougars snapped their three-game winless streak last night, rallying to beat the Everett Silvertips 4-3 in a shootout at the CN Centre. It was the Cougars first win at home since October 10th, as they improved their record to 2-4-2-0 on home ice. Jared Bethune was the only shooter, out of six, to score in the three-round shootout, as Tavin Grant stopped all three Everett attempts. The Silvertips led 2-0 after the first and 3-1 late in the second, but the Cougars got goals by Kody McDonald, Jackson Leppard and Jack Sander to force extra time. It was Sander’s first career WHL goal and he scored in front of his parents, as they made the trip out from Alberta.
Tonight: Prince George is looking for the weekend sweep after last night’s shootout win over the Silvertips. The Cougars are 2-4-2-0 at home and the Silvertips are 5-6-0-1 on the road. Last year the Cougars were 1-3-0-0 versus Everett, and last night was their first win at home against the Silvertips since September 27th, 2015. Coming into tonight’s game, the Cougars have a 2-5-0-0 record versus the US Division.
Head Coach: Dennis Williams
Road Record: 5-6-0-1
Last Game: 4-3 shootout loss at Prince George Nov 10th
Goals For/Goals Against: 55/67
Power Play: 16. 2 % (20th WHL)
Penalty Kill: 82.8 % (4th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Patrick Bajkov (9-17-26), Matt Fonteyne (9-11-20), Connor Dewar (10-9-19)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Sean Richards: Scored the Silvertips second and third goals on Friday night and now has six in 18 games, fourth-best on the team. Richards has 11 points (6-5-11) through 18 games and plays a top-six role for Everett. Taking out his two-goal performance last night, Richards was still one of the more noticeable Silvertips’ forwards last night. He was on the top-line with Patrick Bajkov and Matt Fonteyne.
Matt Fonteyne: He did everything he could do to win the game in overtime for Everett on Friday. Fonteyne was stopped not once but twice on breakaways in OT. Tavin Granted got a blocker to his first attempt, then Grant stoned Fonteyne with a great pad save on his second attempt. Fonteyne has speed and is a threat off the rush. He’s also second in scoring on the ‘Tips (9-11-20) and tied for second in goals (9).
WHO’S ON D:
Kevin Davis: How much does he have left in the tank? Davis was likely the Silvertips ice-time leader last night, as he ate up a lot of minutes on the blue-line. He’s the elder statesmen on a very young blue-line, and he gets tasked with the extra responsibility and minutes that comes with it. You look at the blue-line Everett dressed last night, three defencemen were 17-years-old and two were 18-years-old. Davis was the lone 20-year-old on the backend and will need to be a leader again tonight.
Gianni Fairbrother: One of those young blue-liners for Everett but again he had an impact against the Cougars, scoring his first WHL goal in the first period. Fairbrother usually plays on the top pair with Davis and tonight shouldn’t be any different.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Hart, Luding or Wolf: Easy guess would say Hart goes back in goal but does Dennis Williams throw a curveball tonight? Hart was more than adequate last night, but do they look at giving him a rest after three straight starts? Remember, Hart missed a month and a half with illness and since returning, he’s played their last three. No matter what you do to prepare, nothing compares to actually playing. Do they look at resting Hart tonight, with three games in four days next week, including a home-and-home against Seattle?
Recovery: Everett’s fate tonight can largely depend on how they rebound from last night’s loss. They had two separate two-goal leads and were four-minutes away from a win, before the Cougars tied it late, then won in a shootout. Do the Silvertips use last night’s result as a motivator and play with a chip on their shoulder?
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Head Coach: Richard Matvichuk
Home Record: 2-4-2-0
Last Game: 4-3 shootout win vs. Everett Nov 10th
Goals For/Goals Against: 50/57
Power Play: 15.2% (21st in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 88.3% (1st in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kody McDonald ( 10-7-17), Jared Bethune (4-13-17), Dennis Cholowski (5-9-14)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Brogan O’Brien: With scoring corrections made this morning, O’Brien officially had an assist on the Cougars’ power-play goal in the second period. Despite not scoring, he was one of the Cougars most dangerous forwards last night and had a game-high seven shots on goal. O’Brien looks to have found some chemistry with Aaron Boyd and Josh Curtis on a new-look second-line for Prince George. Does he pick up where he left off last night?
Jackson Leppard: Wrote about his last night and he went out and scored the Cougars’ second goal, late in the second period. Leppard is a threat on the wing and had his moments last night. Remember, he’s coming back from an injury absence and is still getting up to speed. He scored his sixth goal of the season last night and had the potential to go off on a tare. He does bring something extra to that top-line, with Jared Bethune and Kody McDonald.
WHO’S ON D:
Jack Sander:Scored his first WHL goal Friday, the game-tying goal that pushed the game beyond regulation. Sander scored with just over four-minutes left in the third period, sailing a wrist-shot past a crowd out front and over Carter Hart’s shoulder. Sander has this unmistakable quiet confidence to his game, and the Cougars want to see more of that tonight.
Ryan Schoettler: Like Sander, Schoettler is a defenceman that has seized the opportunity of an increased role on the blue-line in the last month. The sophomore rear-guard has a goal and three points in his last five games and he appeared to be one of the Cougars’ go-to defenceman last night.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Tavin Grant: He’d be the first to admit he wanted to the first two goals back last night in the first period, but Grant showed a lot of maturity, buckling down and closing the door at the end. Some goalies wouldn’t be able to shake off a shaky first period, but he did and he looked like his old self in the last 45-minutes of the game. No doubt, he’s measuring himself against Carter Hart, and he wants to prove nothing more that he can hang with the best. A game, within a game.
Hard Work: Head Coach Richard Matvichuk spoke to it in the pre-game show Friday. There’s no substitute for hard-work and the Cougars were winners Friday because of their work ethic. By their own admission, this isn’t a team that’s going to dazzle you with all sorts of skill plays. This is an honest, hard-working group that doesn’t quit. The Cougars are at their best when they’re going in straight lines, moving their feet and establishing a heavy, persistent fore-check.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Cougars penalty-kill is ranked first overall in the WHL and hasn’t allowed a power-play goal since October 13th. They’ve killed-off 39 straight penalties.
- Friday was Tavin Grant’s first career win at home. His previous seven, dating back to the 2014-15 season, were all on the road.
- Jared Bethune’s shootout-winner last night was the first shootout goal of his career; he was 0-for-6 going into Friday’s game.
- The Cougars are undefeated in regulation when Jackson Leppard scores. So far, in six games, the Cougars are 3-0-2-1.