Game 55 Preview: Cougars (16-31-3-4) at Thunderbirds (23-28-3-3)

TONIGHT: Tonight, is the Cougars 55th game of the season and their 27th road game. The Cougars have won two of three thus far against the Thunderbirds this season. The Cougars and T-Birds last met on February 9th, with Seattle winning 2-1 at the ShoWare Center. Ilijah Colina scored the Cougars’ only goal in that setback. Conner Bruggen-Cate and Matthew Rempe scored for Seattle. Today, is the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season. Dating back to last season, the Cougars are 5-2-0-0 against the Thunderbirds. Prince George is 3-4-0-0 in their last seven games at the ShoWare Center. Their last win in Kent, WA was on December 28th, 2018 (2-1).

LAST GAME: The Cougars lost their fifth in a row Friday, falling 4-2 to the Everett Silvertips at the Angel of the Winds Arena. Captain Josh Maser (23) and Vladislav Mikhalchuk (8) scored in the loss. Goaltender Taylor Gauthier stopped 43 of 46 shots in the Cougars’ crease. The power-play went 1-4 and the penalty-kill was 1-2. Prince George trailed 1-0 through 20-minutes before Maser tied the game late in the second period. In the third, the two teams combined for four goals; Everett scoring three. Trailing 2-1, Mikhalchuk tied the game on the power-play five and a half minutes into the final period. Everett’s Dawson Butt scored the game-winner 51-seconds later. Kasper Puutio added an empty-net goal for Everett. The two teams split the four-game season series.

SEASON SERIES: Feb 4th 6-4 Cougars (CN Centre), Feb 5th 2-1 Cougars SO (CN Centre), Feb 9th 2-1 Thunderbirds (ShoWare Center), Feb 23rd at ShoWare Center. The Cougars are 7-11-1-0 against the U.S. Division this season.

STREAKS: Captain Josh Maser has points (2-2-4) in four-straight games. Vladislav Mikhalchuk has five points (2-3-5) in the last five games. Cole Moberg has five points (1-4-5) in the last seven games.

MILESTONES: Ryan Schoettler played in his 250th career regular season game on Friday. Mitch Kohner played in his 100th career regular season game on February 17th. Vladislav Mikhalchuk played in his 150th career regular season game on January 24th. Brendan Boyle played in his 100th career regular season game on January 10th.

LINE UP: Don’t expect many changes to the Cougars line up. Taylor Gauthier will make his eighth-straight start and is playing in his 44th game this season. Gauthier has won two of his three starts against Seattle and owns a 2.29 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in those three games. We may see a fresh face in the line up like a Blake Eastman or Davin Griffin but those decisions likely coming closer to puck drop.

Seattle is dealing with a few injuries. Defenceman Zach Ashton is still week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Forwards Henrik Rybinski and Lucas Ciona are both day-to-day with upper-body injuries. Rybinski was hurt on February 8th and hasn’t played since. Ciona has missed the last four games. The T-Birds have called up reinforcements in Reid Schaefer and Sam Popowich from the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

COUGARS FOCUS: A good start. Prince George has the weight of  their playoff hopes on their shoulders and have been burdened by a five-game slide. They have surrendered the game’s first goal in each of those loses. Chasing, playing from behind is taxing. Seattle is playing their third game of the weekend and is coming off a win over their rivals in the Portland Winterhawks last night. Prince George needs to find a way to jump on the T-Birds. Seattle’s gas tank may be low and their weekend schedule may catch up with them today. 14 of the Cougars’ 16 wins have come when they score first.

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