We are almost a month away from the opening face-off of Western Hockey League (WHL) action in Prince George.
The Cougars are gearing up for its 26th season in B.C.’s northern capital and are planning to show off their talent to the public ahead of the 2019-20 regular season with training camp.
The pre-season event begins next Friday, Aug. 23, ending on Tuesday, Aug. 27 and capping it off with the team’s annual Black vs. White intrasquad contest.
On the day he was announced as both Head Coach and General Manager of Prince George, Mark Lamb said he had a goal in mind of creating stability within the organization, while also noting players’ attitudes started to change near the end of 2018-19.
"We made a lot of good trades the year before, a lot of draft picks in the cupboards, including a really good draft this year, and we have lots of good assets from the draft next year,” he explained. “So how can we keep everything going forward in a positive way? Well, we decided to make the coaching change; what I wasn’t comfortable with was downstairs, and the best way to get to know [the players] is to get in the fight with them; get into battle with them.”
“I’m a hockey nut!” @PGCougars Head Coach & GM Mark Lamb says he’s embraced Prince George & wanted nothing more than to continue to be on the bench | #CityOfPG @TheWHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/zhXOlyBjJp— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) July 4, 2019
The 2018-19 record of 19-41-5-3 was the first time in 10 seasons Prince George had failed to reach 20 wins and two years after they posted a franchise-best 45 wins in the 2016-17 B.C. Division banner season.
Lamb’s approach will be critical when assembling the new crop of Cougars once the five-day training camp is complete, which will consist of returning players and prospects, as well as free agents on an invitation.
Players like 2019 WHL Bantam Draft first-round picks Keaton Dowhaniuk and Koehn Ziemmer will try to prove themselves as worthy competitors, while new Czech Republic-import Filip Koffer is likely eyeing a top-six forward spot on the roster in proving his international experience can benefit the Cougars’ recent offensive struggles.
“As a staff, we’re excited to get the season underway and help mold this young group that has a bright future ahead,” said Lamb in a team release.
The Cougars are inviting everyone to come and watch the on-ice practices and scrimmages on each day of camp at the CN Centre.
The full training camp schedule for public viewing is as follows:
- Friday, Aug. 23
- 6 to 8 p.m. = Young Guns Game (Team Brewer vs. Team Hamhuis)
- Saturday, Aug. 24
- 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. = Team Practices & Workouts
- 2:30 to 4 p.m. = Team Chara vs. Team Byfuglien
- 4:30 to 6 p.m. = Team Connolly vs. Team Bourke
- Sunday, Aug. 25
- 9 to 10:30 a.m. = Team Byfuglien vs. Team Connolly
- 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. = Team Chara vs. Team Bourke
- 3:30 to 5 p.m. = Team Connolly vs. Team Chara
- 5:30 to 7 p.m. = Team Byfuglien vs. Team Bourke
- Monday, Aug. 26
- 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. = On-Ice & Off-Ice Testing
- 4 to 5:30 p.m. = Team Chara vs. Team Connolly
- 6 to 7:30 p.m. = Team Byfuglien vs. Team Bourke
- Tuesday, Aug. 27
- 9 to 10:30 a.m. = Scratched Players Practice
- 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. = Team White Practice
- 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. = Team Black Practice
- 7 p.m. = Black vs. White Intrasquad Game
More information is available on the Prince George Cougars website.
The new season begins Sept. 20 at the CN Centre against the Vancouver Giants.