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GAME PREVIEW: GM 7 Cougars at Spokane Chiefs

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Spokane Arena | 7:05 PM

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The Prince George Cougars (1-4-0-1) face the Spokane Chiefs (3-2-1-0) as they kick-off a two-game U.S. Division road trip. The Cougars are coming off their first win of the season last Saturday, knocking off the Kelowna Rockets 4-1 at the CN Centre. The Chiefs are looking to bounce back after losing 4-3 to Everett on Sunday afternoon. Tonight, is the first of four meetings and the first of three encounters over the next eight days.

Last Saturday it was a night of firsts for three Cougars. Goaltender Tyler Brennan picked up his first WHL win in his first WHL start, and Ethan Samson and Filip Koffer each scored their first WHL goals. Josh Maser and Jack Sander also scored in the game. The win snapped the Cougars’ season opening five-game losing streak, and now they look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

There’s some good news and bad news on the injury front. Prince George are getting a big boost as defenceman Cole Moberg and forward Jackson Leppard will play tonight. Moberg has missed the last four and a half games with an upper-body injury. Leppard missed last weekend’s doubleheader against Kelowna with a lower-body injury. That’s the good news. The bad news is goaltender Tyler Brennan was hurt in practice this week and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. In turn, the Cougars signed 2002-born goaltender Jacob Herman from the Swift Current Legionnaires in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Read more on that story HERE. Herman will back up Taylor Gauthier this weekend.

Tonight, is the first of four regular season meetings between the Cougars and the Chiefs. The results in the last two seasons have been lopsided in favour of Spokane. The Cougars have dropped eight-straight to the Chiefs dating back to the 2017-2018 season. In fact, the Cougars last win against Spokane was March 11th, 2017 that coincidentally on the road. Can the Cougars snap the eight-game losing streak and pick up their first road win? Historically, the Chiefs have been pretty good at home against the Cougars, winning four of their last six at Spokane Arena.

Prince George sits fifth in the B.C. Division entering tonight’s action, one point back of the fourth-place Victoria Royals and three points back of third-place Kamloops. The Chiefs sit third in the U.S. Division, a point back of thee Everett Silvertips and Portland Winterhawks who sit first and second respectively. The Cougars are looking to improve upon their 5-13-1-1 record against the U.S. Division last season.

Rhett Rhinehart comes into tonight’s game riding a four-game point streak, as he has picked up an assist in each of his last four. Josh Maser has scored in back-to-back games and had a team best three goals against the Chiefs last season. Taylor Gauthier is making his sixth and is looking for his first win. He’s been excellent in his last three starts, posting a .933 save percentage.

The Chiefs have a new leader behind the bench in Head Coach Manny Viveiros. He took over for Dan Lambert who accepted a job with the Nashville Predators as their Assistant Coach. Viveiros spent last season with the Edmonton Oilers and is two seasons removed from winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup with the Swift Current Broncos.

After a breakout rookie season where he scored 32 goals and nearly averaged a point-per game, Adam Beckman is on an early season tear. The 18-year-old leads the Chiefs in scoring with 10 points (2-8-10) in his first six games. The Chiefs also got a big weapon sent back to them from the NHL recently. Defenceman Ty Smith is, outside of Bowen Byram, arguably the best defenceman in the WHL. The 19-year-old spent the NHL Pre-Season and most of September with the New Jersey Devils but was sent back to the Chiefs a little over a week ago. In just three games he already has six points (3-3-6) and will be a key factor in their offence going forward.

Just like the Cougars, the Chiefs have battled the injury bug early in the season. 20-year-old forward Jake McGrew was hurt in Sunday’s loss to Everett and is listed as day-to-day with both upper and lower body injuries. The San Jose Sharks’ prospect is a big piece up front for Spokane. They also have their number one goaltender on the mend in import Lukas Parik, who’s listed as day-to-day. Look for 17-year-old rookie Campbell Arnold to start in net tonight.

TEAM LEADERS

   COUGARS           CHIEFS
GOALS (2) Maser, Upper GOALS (5) Jake McGrew
ASSISTS (4) Rhinehart, Schoettler ASSISTS (8) Adam Beckman
POINTS (5) Ryan Schoettler POINTS (10) Adam Beckman
PPG (1)  Multiple Tied PPG (2) Jake McGrew
SHG SHG
GWG (1) Ethan Samson GWG (2) Jake McGrew
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