CN CENTRE | 7:00 PM
COUGARS TRACKS: The Prince George Cougars are in their 26th season in the Western Hockey League. The Cougars are 0-3-0-1 through four games, sitting fifth in the B.C. Division. Tonight, the Cougars are playing the Kelowna Rockets in the first of nine meetings in the regular season. Tonight’s game is also the fifth of six-straight against the B.C. Division to open the season.
LAST GAME: The Cougars dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Victoria Royals on September 28th on Vancouver Island. Ethan Browne and Ryan Schoettler scored in regulation for Prince George. Taylor Gauthier stopped 31 of 33 shots. The power-play was 1-4 and the penalty-kill was 3-4. The Cougars are winless in their first four games to open the season.
VERSUS ROCKETS: Oct 4th at PG, 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 nine of their last 17 regular season home games against the Rockets. Ethan Browne had 11 points (2-9-11) against Kelowna a season ago.
||(2) Tyson Upper
||(4) Hamaliuk, Topping
||(4) Ryan Schoettler
||(7) Leif Mattson
||(5) Ryan Schoettler
||(8) Dillon Hamaliuk
||(1) Moberg, Schoettler
||(2) Hamaliuk, Topping
||(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 four games. Schoettler scored his first goal of the season in last Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss in Victoria. A night earlier he played his 200th career regular season 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.
COUGARS FOCUS: Prince George hopes a return home provides some good home cooking. The Cougars are still searching for their first win and have an opportunity to get in the win column against the Memorial Cup hosts Kelowna Rockets. The Cougars won six of the nine meetings last year against Kelowna, and won four of five home games. Prince George is missing a few key pieces but General Manager & Head Coach Mark Lamb is quick to point it is an opportunity for others to step up. Ryan Schoettler certainly has, posting five points in the Cougars’ first four games. Who will step up and take a lead in helping this team end the losing streak? There’s enough veterans in the line up that can help make something happen.
UP NEXT: Oct 5th vs. KEL, Oct 11th at SPO, Oct 12th at TC, Oct 18th vs. SPO, Oct 19th vs. SPO.