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GAME PREVIEW: Cougars Look to Split Weekend with Kelowna Rockets

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COUGARS TRACKS: The Prince George Cougars are in their 26th season in the Western Hockey League. The Cougars are 0-4-0-1 through four games, sitting fifth in the B.C. Division. Tonight, the Cougars are playing the Kelowna Rockets in the second of nine meetings in the regular season. Tonight’s game is also the sixth of six-straight against the B.C. Division to open the season.

LAST GAME: The Cougars are still searching for their first win after a 2-1 setback to the Rockets Friday. Josh Maser scored his first goal of the season in third period to tie the game 1-1, but Pavel Novak scored his second goal of the game, on the power-play, with less than two-minutes left as the Rockets eked out a 2-1 victory. Friday was the Cougars fourth one-goal loss in their first five games, if you exclude empty-net goals against.

VERSUS ROCKETS: Oct 4th 2-1 L, Oct 5th at PG, Oct 23 at PG, Nov 1st at KEL, Nov 30th at KEL, Dec 30th at KEL, Feb 25th at PG, Feb 26th at PG, Mar 18th at KEL. Last season, the Cougars were 6-2-1-0 in nine meetings against the Rockets. Prince George won four of their five home games against Kelowna. The Cougars have won eight of their last 14 regular season home games against the Rockets. Ethan Browne had 11 points (2-9-11) against Kelowna a season ago.

TEAM LEADERS

   COUGARS           ROCKETS
GOALS (2) Tyson Upper GOALS (4) Hamaliuk, Topping
ASSISTS (4) Ryan Schoettler ASSISTS (7) Leif Mattson
POINTS (5) Ryan Schoettler POINTS (8) Dillon Hamaliuk
PPG (1)  Moberg, Schoettler PPG (2) Hamaliuk, Topping, Novak
SHG SHG
GWG GWG (1)  Multiple Tied

 

ROSTER DNA: The Cougars have 24 players (two goaltenders, eight defencemen, 14 forwards) on their roster. 17 players are back from the 2018-2019 season. They have four 16-year-olds, two 17-year-olds, 10 18-year-olds, five 19-year-olds, and three 20-year-olds. Their two imports are from the Czech Republic. The average age of the roster is 17.83 which is ranked 11th in the WHL. Of the 24 players on the roster, 10 were drafted by the Cougars, two taken in the Import Draft, five were signed, and seven were acquired via trade.

STREAKS: Ryan Schoettler is off to a terrific start for the Cougars. The 20-year-old defenceman leads the Cougars in scoring with five points (1-4-5) in his first five games. Friday he was named the team’s September Player of the month. Rhett Rhinehart (0-3-3) has a three-game assist streak entering tonight’s game.

MOBERG DRAFTED: Defenceman Cole Moberg was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh-round, 194th overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. The North Vancouver product set career-highs in goals (13), assists (27), and points (40) last season. Impressive feat for the defenceman considering he wasn’t drafted in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. Moberg is the first Cougars drafted player to be taken in the NHL Draft since Josh Anderson was selected by the Colorado Avalanche (third-round, 71st overall) in 2016.

SEVEN ALUMNI ON NHL OPENING NIGHT ROSTERS: The Cougars have seven former players on NHL opening night rosters. Of the seven, six are defencemen with Brendan Guhle (Anaheim), Zdeno Chara (Boston), Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg), Dennis Cholowski (Detroit), Dan Hamhuis (Nashville), and Martin Marinčin (Toronto) patrolling NHL blue-lines. Former Cougar Brett Connolly has a new home after signing a four-year deal with the Florida Panthers in the off-season. In total, 127 WHL alumni are on NHL opening night rosters.

INJURY REPORT: Ilijah Colina (upper-body) two-three weeks, Cole Moberg (upper-body) 1-2 weeks, Jackson Leppard (lower-body) 1-2 weeks, Ethan Browne (undisclosed).

COUGARS FOCUS: 16-year-old Tyler Brennan may make his first WHL start tonight. The first-round draft pick from the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, has made one relief appearance this season. Taylor Gauthier has been terrific in his last three starts, sporting a .933 save percentage in those three starts but he is due for a breather, and it’s a great opportunity for the youngster in Brennan. With Ethan Browne hurt, the Cougars will likely go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen.

UP NEXT: Oct 11th at SPO, Oct 12th at TC, Oct 18th vs. SPO, Oct 19th vs. SPO, Oct 22nd vs. SC

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