This season has been called the New Ice Age for the Prince George Cougars. New ownership, upgraded facilities and some renewed excitement in the team from the community. The players have responded by starting 6-4 and winning their last 3. They are the hottest team in the BC Division not named Kelowna. Seattle, on the other hand, has been waffling and is still at .500 for the season. The teams won’t meet again for over 3 months after tonight but this game would be a good chance for the Thunderbirds to get 2 points from a conference opponent. Here are some game day notes:
Wednesday night, Seattle lost in Spokane 4-1. F Ryan Gropp scored the lone goal for Seattle and G Taran Kozun lost for the first time as a TBird in Spokane, letting in 4 goals on 43 Chiefs shots.
Overall game #10 Home game #4
Prince George Cougars (6-4-0-0) @ Seattle Thunderbirds (4-4-0-1)
Radio: 94.3FM The Goat (Prince George) 1090AM The Fan (Seattle)
Power play: Prince George #16 8/49 16.3% Seattle #11 7/35 20%
Penalty kill: Prince George #22 44/63 69.8% Seattle #6 29/34 85.3%
Prince George PP: #14 3/22 13.6% PK: #20 18/27 66.7%
Seattle PP: #9 2/9 22.2% PK: #18 11/15 73.3%
First meeting of the season
Oct 17 @ Seattle
Jan 30 @ Prince George
Jan 31 @ Prince George
Feb 27 @ Seattle
They win some and you lose some
The Cougars come into tonight’s game reasonably healthy. They got back F Chance Braid from an injury earlier and only have a couple day-to-day injuries to deal with with F’s Cal Babych and Haydn Hopkins.
The big news for Seattle this week was the suspension of D Evan Wardley for 7 games. That left the TBirds with only 5 healthy defensemen on the roster going into Tuesday’s game vs Spokane. GM Russ Farwell made a trade before then to get 18-year old D Scott Allan from Medicine Hat in exchange for a ’16 5th rd Bantam Draft pick.
In addition to missing Wardley, looks like D Ethan Bear may be out for this weekend. He took a few good punches and sustained a cut in a fight Tuesday night in the 1st period and never returned. He also missed Wednesday’s game in Spokane. Luke Osterman made his first appearance on D on Wednesday night, filling the hole left by the Bear injury. Expect to see him or Holowko continue to fill that role until Bear returns.
Gropp scored his 50th WHL regular season point on Tuesday night. He has 24G 27A in 68GP so far in his WHL career.
Keep on rollin’
Ryan Gropp scored a goal on Wednesday night and, with that, extended his point scoring streak to 6 games. In those 6 games, he has 4 goals and 3 assists.
TBirds will be looking to break a streak tonight against Prince George: Seattle has not won in their last 3 games vs the Cougars at the ShoWare Center. Seattle last won on Jan 29, 2013, and since then has gone 0-1-0-2.
As of writing this, we don’t know who will be in net for either team. However, Logan Flodell’s one career WHL appearance and win came against the Cougars last season. Up in PG on 1/8/14, Flodell let in 7 goals on 28 shots but Seattle scored 9 for the highly entertaining win. Flodell was pushed into getting the start after an earlier injury to G Justin Myles and the need to give G Danny Mumaugh a night off.
F Mathew Barzal 11
F Ryan Gropp 6
F Mathew Barzal 7
D Sahvan Khaira +2
F Keegan Kolesar 18
(WHL website lists D Jared Hauf with 19. However, his major for a check to the head on Tuesday night was rescinded by the league. Stat sheets have yet to reflect that decision.)
Around the division
Not a very busy week for the US Division. Seattle and Spokane were they only 2 teams that have played since Saturday night.
Tonight, all 5 teams are in action. Tri-City has returned from their East division road trip and are back at the Toyota Center to take on the Everett Silvertips. Portland headed out to Saskatchewan and Manitoba this week and start their trip tonight in Moose Jaw.
The TBirds stay at home for 5 of the next 6 games. Tomorrow night the Thunderbirds are home to the Kamloops Blazers. It will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Game time will be 705pm at ShoWare Center.