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GAME PREVIEW: GM 4 vs. Victoria Royals

Photo: Allen Douglas

Last Game: The Prince George Cougars lost their third consecutive game to open the season with their 8-3 loss to the Kamloops Blazers on October 9th. Jonny Hooker, Ethan Samson, and Craig Armstrong scored for Prince George. Tyler Brennan and Ty Young split the goaltending duties. Brennan started but was replaced by Young midway through the game after he surrendered five goals on 25 shots. Young stopped 16 of 19. The one bright spot was the power-play as the all three of the Cougars’ goals came on the man-advantage.

Tonight’s game: Tonight, is the first of 14 meetings between the two B.C. Division rivals and the first of six-straight against the Royals for Prince George. Originally these two teams were to meet 12 times but due to the ongoing closure of the Canada-US border, Prince George had two games against the Seattle Thunderbirds in October rescheduled. Last season in the B.C. Division Hub, the Cougars were 3-1-2-0 against Victoria. Jonny Hooker led the Cougars in scoring against the Royals a season ago, posting six points (4-2-6) in five games. Craig Armstrong also had six points (1-5-6) in six games.

Who’s Hot: Riley Heidt has six points (1-5-6) in his first three games. The 16-year-old leads the Cougars in scoring. Heidt scored his first WHL goal against the Royals on March 29th, 2021. Jonny Hooker has scored in each of the Cougars first three games. Hudson Thornton has four points in three games and Ethan Samson has averaged a point per-game (1g-2a) in his first three games.

Season Series

GM 1 Oct 16th vs. Victoria GM 7 Jan 7th vs. Victoria
GM 2 Oct 17th vs. Victoria GM 8 Jan 8th vs. Victoria
GM 3 Oct 22nd at Victoria GM 9 Mar 11th vs. Victoria
GM 4 Oct 23rd at Victoria GM 10 Mar 12th vs. Victoria
GM 5 Oct 26th vs. Victoria GM 11 Mar 18th at Victoria
GM 6 Oct 27th vs. Victoria GM 12 Mar 19th at Victoria
GM 13 Mar 25th at Victoria GM 14 Mar 26th at Victoria

Prince George Cougars

General Manager & Head Coach: Mark Lamb

2021-22 Record: GP 3 0-3-0-0 (5th B.C.)

2020-21 Record vs. Victoria: 3-1-2-0

Home: 0-1-0-0

Streak: 0-3-0-0

Last Game: 8-3 loss at Kamloops Blazers (Oct 9th)

Scoring Leaders : Riley Heidt (1-5-6), Kyren Gronick (3-2-5), Jonny Hooker (3-1-4), Hudson Thornton (2-2-4), Craig Armstrong (1-2-3)

Game Notes

  • Tonight, is the first of 14 meetings between these two teams this season. Originally, the season series was 12 games but two more were tacked on after the Cougars had to reschedule a doubleheader at home against Seattle due to the ongoing Canada-US border closure.
  • Last season, the Cougars played the Royals six times in the B.C. Division Hub and won three and took points in five of six match ups. In those six games, Jonny Hooker led the Cougars in scoring with six points (4g-2a). Craig Armstrong also had six points (1g-5a).
  • Prince George will be a bit shorthanded up front tonight. Due to suspensions to Mitch Kohner (1-game) and Ryker Singer (2-games) the Cougars will only have 11 forwards available. Forward Mike Svenson has been returned to the Winkler Flyers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Cougars will likely go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
  • After Tuesday’s trade with Moose Jaw that sent defenceman Majid Kaddoura to the “Friendly City,” the Cougars now have the youngest roster in the WHL, with an average age of 17.58.
  • As noted before, the first period has been an issue for the Cougars. Through three games they’ve been outscored 7-1 in the opening frame. The Royals have had their troubles in the first as they’ve been outscored 9-2.
  • Not many whiskers on the blue-line, as the Cougars have just one 19-year-old among their seven defencemen. The seven only have 184 games of combined experience. Along with the one 19-year-old, they have one 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds, and two 18-year-olds. A young blue-line is going to get a lot of opportunity going forward.
  • One bright spot has been the power-play. Through three games, the Cougars have scored four power-play goals and are humming along at 25 percent.

Victoria Royals

General Manager & Head Coach: Dan Price

2021-22 Record: GP 5 1-4-0-0 (4th B.C.)

2020-21 Record vs. Prince George: 3-3-0-0

Away: 0-0-0-0

Streak: 0-3-0-0

Last Game: 6-2 loss vs. Kamloops Blazers (Oct 13th)

Scoring Leaders : Brayden Schuurman (5-1-6), Bailey Peach (2-4-6), Keanu Derungs (1-4-5), Gannon Laroque (1-3-4), Riley Gannon (2-0-2)

Game Notes

  • 17-year-old forward Brayden Schuurman is off to a great start. The Abbotsford, B.C. product has six goals in his first five games, including a hat-trick against the Kelowna Rockets back on October 8th. Schuurman leads the Royals in points heading into this weekend’s doubleheader.
  • Speaking of good starts, 20-year-old Bailey Peach has fit in nicely for the Royals. The former Charlottetown Islander in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has six points (2g-4a) in his first five games.
  • Victoria goaltenders have been busy. Through five games, the Royals have on average surrendered 40 shots per game. Rookie goaltender Tyler Palmer has faced 150 shots in four games and has an impressive .917 save percentage.
  • The Royals added some experience to their backend with the addition of 20-year-old Neithan Salame. Victoria picked him up from the Brandon Wheats for a pair of WHL Draft picks. Salame brings 158 games with him to the west coast.

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