GAME PREVIEW: GM 5 Cougars vs. Royals

Photo: James Doyle

Last Game: The Prince George Cougars picked up their first win of the 2021-22 season on Saturday, knocking-off the Victoria Royals 3-1. Jonny Hooker, Riley Heidt, and Fischer O’Brien scored for the Cougars. Heidt scored the game-winner with less than five-minutes left in regulation. Defencemen Hudson Thornton and Viliam Kmec each had a pair of assists. Goaltender Taylor Gauthier earned the win in goal, as he stopped 22 of 23 shots. Prince George was 0-6 on the power-play but went a perfect 7-7 on the penalty-kill.

Today’s Game: Today, is the second of 14 games against the Royals this season and the second in less than 24 hours. Today, is the second of three Sunday games this season for the Cougars. The other two are March 27th at Vancouver and April 3rd versus Kelowna. So far this season, Prince George is 0-1-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. Victoria is 0-2-0-0 on the back half of doubleheaders; they’ve been outscored 14-7 in those two games.

Who’s Hot: Riley Heidt has seven points (2g-5a) in his first four 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 four games. Hudson Thornton has six points (2g-4a) in three games. Rookie defenceman Viliam Kmec has four points (0g-4a) in his first four games in the WHL.

Season Series

GM 1 Oct 16th 3-1 W 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 4 1-3-0-0 (4th B.C.)

2021-22 Record vs. Victoria: 1-0-0-0

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

Home: 1-1-0-0

Streak: 1-0-0-0

Last Game: 3-1 win vs. Victoria Royals (Oct 16th)

Scoring Leaders : Riley Heidt (2-5-7), Hudson Thornton (2-4-6), Jonny Hooker (4-1-5), Kyren Gronick (2-3-5), Viliam Kmec (0-4-4)


Game Notes

  • Today, is the second game in less than 24 hours between these two teams. The Cougars are 0-1-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, being outscored 8-3. The Royals are 0-2-0-0 in the back half of doubleheaders and have been outscored 14-7. Victoria only iced 15 skaters last night and likely will only have the same 15 available as they had seven players out of last night’s game. Prince George needs to take advantage.
  • Speaking of which, the Cougars will have a full compliment of forwards, as Mitch Kohner will be back after serving a one-game suspension. Last night, the Cougars went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Ryker Singer is serving the second game of his two-game suspension.
  • If patterns are any indication, you would assume today’s starter is Tyler Brennan. Taylor Gauthier was sharp last night, stopping 22 of 23 shots. He made a couple key saves in the first period when the game was still scoreless. What was most impressive was when the Royals went up 1-0, Gauthier did not allow them to add to their lead. Big opportunity for Brennan to find his rhythm.
  • Last night, the two teams were a combined 0-13 on the power-play; the Cougars 0-6. Associate Coach Josh Dixon mentioned on the radio broadcast during the first intermission that he wanted more urgency from the group. I would expect to see a sharper power-play from both units today.
  • Riley Heidt is on some kind of tear to start his 16-year-old season. Seven points (2g-5a) in his first four games. Scored the game-winner last night and is fifth in Rookie scoring in the WHL. He centers a line with Jonny Hooker and Kyren Gronick. That top line has combined for 17 points.
  • Better start yesterday, as the Cougars were scoreless through the first period. Remember, they were outscored 7-1 in the first period going into last night’s contest. However, they have only scored first once in their first four games. Playing with the lead will be critical today against a short-staffed Royals squad.
  • Face-offs, Prince George dominated Saturday. The Cougars won 63 percent of the draws last night. When you win that many draws, zone time, possession starts to stack up in your favour. That can be a factor again today against a tired Royals squad.


Victoria Royals

General Manager & Head Coach: Dan Price

2021-22 Record: GP 6 1-5-0-0 (5th B.C.)

2021-22 Record vs. Prince George: 0-1-0-0

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

Away: 0-1-0-0

Streak: 0-4-0-0

Last Game: 3-1 loss at Prince George Cougars (Oct 17)

Scoring Leaders : Brayden Schuurman (6-2-8), Bailey Peach (2-4-6), Keanu Derungs (1-4-5), Gannon Laroque (1-3-4), Riley Gannon (2-0-2)


Game Notes

  • Seven skaters were out of the Royals line up last night. Tarun Fizer is in the AHL with the Colorado Eagles and newly acquired defenceman Neithan Salame didn’t make the trip. But they injuries to Austin Zemlak, Devin Aubin, Matthew Hodson, and Jason Spizawka. Tough run of luck for the Royals.
  • Brayden Schuurman was held off the scoresheet last night and that’s a minor victory for the Cougars. The Abbotsford, B.C. product is the reigning WHL Player of the Week and has six goals in six games. He anchors their top line with Bailey Peach and Keanu Derungs. The three have accounted for nine of the team’s 16 goals.
  • The Royals have two sets of brothers on their roster. Twins Jason and Ryan Spizawka, who are both defencemen and Anthony and Wyatt Wilson. Anthony is a centerman and Wyatt a defenceman.
  • The Royals acquired overage defenceman Neithan Salame from the Brandon Wheat Kings earlier this week for a fifth and sixth round selection in the WHL Prospects Draft.  Salame played four seasons and over 150 regular seasons games in Brandon.

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