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Game Preview: GM 25 Cougars at Kelowna Rockets

LAST GAME: The Cougars (6-16-0-2) swept the Kamloops Blazers with a 5-3 win a week ago in Prince George. That win on the heels of a 4-3 win a night earlier against the B.C. Division leaders. In the win last Saturday, the Cougars never trailed, leading 2-1 after the first and 3-2 after 40-minutes.

Tyson Upper, Josh Maser, Vladislav Mikhalchuk, Mitch Kohner, and Ethan Browne scored the Cougars’ goals. The star, again, was Taylor Gauthier who turned aside 48 of 51 shots for his second-consecutive win. In two games last weekend against the Blazers, Gauthier stopped 89 of 95 shots and was named the first star in both games. The Cougars despite the two wins last weekend were badly outshot 95-38 over two games. Saturday marked the first time the Cougars had won back-to-back games since October 11th.

TONIGHT: Tonight, is the second meeting in Kelowna this season. The two teams last met at the beginning of the month on November 1st, when the Rockets scored a 6-2 win. Prince George had prospect Jacob Herman in net that night, as Taylor Gauthier was injured and Tyler Brennan was away at the World Under-17 Challenge. The Rockets have won the last two encounters, as they also picked up a 4-2 win over the Cats on October 23rd in Prince George.

The Rockets had their four-game win streak come to an end on Tuesday, losing 1-0 in the shootout to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. Roman Basran technically earned a shutout, stopping all 27 shots he faced in 65-minutes of action. 17-year-old rookie netminder Sebastian Cossa earned the goose-egg for Edmonton. Kelowna is pretty stingy of late, allowing just seven goals in their last five games, if you don’t count the shootout goal credited to the Oil Kings on Tuesday.

Prince George has won four of their last 13 regular season games in Kelowna, posting a record of 4-8-1-0 over that stretch. The Cougars are 4-9-0-2 against the B.C. Division this season.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Prince George Cougars (6-16-0-2 14 PTS) Kelowna Rockets (13-8-1-2 29 PTS)
5th B.C. Division | 10th Western Conference 2nd B.C. Division | 4th Western Conference
Power-Play 13/95 13.7% (20th) Power-Play 22/105 21.0% (8th)
Penalty-Kill (20/82) 75.6% (20th) Penalty-Kill 21/108 80.6% (12th)
Last 10 2-7-0-1 Streak 2-0-0-0 Last 10 6-4-0-0 Streak 0-1-0-0

LINE UP: Reid Perepeluk returns to the line up after serving his three-game suspension he picked up after the Cougars November 16th game against the Vancouver Giants. Prince George did make a pair of moves to their roster this week. Forward Holden Kodak (’01) has been re-assigned to the West Kelowna Warriors in the BCHL. Defenceman Joe Kennedy (’01) has been released from the active roster. Their roster now sits at 22: two goaltenders, six defencemen, and 14 forwards.

The Cougars are without forward Blake Eastman who is recovering from an upper-body injury he sustained last weekend. Taylor Gauthier will get the start against the Rockets. He has a 3.00 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage in two games against Kelowna.

The Rockets made a splash last weekend, acquiring overage forward Jadon Joseph from the Moose Jaw Warriors, in exchange for forwards Kyle Crosbie and Kobe Mohr, along with goaltender James Porter, and a third-round selection in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft. Joseph played last season between Lethbridge and Vancouver, before being traded to Moose Jaw ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Pavel Novak still has four games remaining on his eight-game suspension and overage forward Kyle Topping continues to recover from ankle surgery. He’s still sidelined for up to 15 weeks.

SEASON SERIES: Tonight, is meeting number five of nine. The Cougars are 1-3-0-0 against the Rockets this season. Last year, the Cougars were 6-2-1-0 against Kelowna. Prince George is 13-13-3-0 in their last 29 games against the Rockets which spans five seasons.

 COUGARS’ FOCUS: Special teams. The Rockets are 6-16 on the power-play against the Cougars, which works out to 37.5%. The penalty-kill has allowed a power-play goal against in each of the four games against the Rockets this season. Prior to the two goals surrendered to the Blazers, the Cougars penalty-kill was 16 for its last 17 and had not conceded a power-play goal in four-straight. Prince George can’t let the Rockets power-play dictate tonight’s game.

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