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Prince George Cougars’ final weekend pinning them against fiery Kamloops bunch

No playoffs, but the chance to play spoiler is there
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You can still expect a pair of grudge matches on the final weekend of the 2018-19 Western Hockey League (WHL) season. 

The Prince George Cougars can play spoiler to Kamloops as the Blazers sit one point back of the WHL playoffs behind Kelowna for third place in the B.C. Division.

The Seattle Thunderbirds pulled out a 6-5 overtime win in Tri-City on Wednesday (March 13) to clinch the second and final wild-card spot.

So, in terms of what’s to come this Friday (March 15) and Saturday (March 16) for the Cougars, they can expect a lot of physicality from their upcoming opponents.

B.C. Division rivalry games, playoff implications or no playoff implications, always bring out the toughness in players, especially Prince George and Kamloops, who do not like each other.

But on top of that obvious statement, the Cats have only won one game this season against their closest adversary in seven meetings thus far, which came in a shootout, 2-1 on Feb. 22.

That also happened to be the day the Cats ended a franchise-high 17-game losing skid.

This time around, Prince George will likely face a fiery Blazers squad playing for a spot in the post-season, which could favour the Cougars if they’re able to keep their emotions and heads intact.

Four of their last five meetings have been decided by two goals or less, and surely, both games this weekend could be close as well.

The Cats would like to reach the 20-win mark as that would be a silver lining on the cloud of what has been a dismal season and, if they’re able to beat the Blazers in back-to-back games, Prince George would be ending their year on a three-game win streak.

Right now, their last-place division and Western Conference record sits at 18-40-5-3.

That’s a feat they have not accomplished since October, when they won three straight games, two on the road and one at home, against Lethbridge, Kootenay, and Swift Current (Oct. 13-21).

So to close out the 2018-19 campaign on a high note would be a big accomplishment for Prince George’s young core and a testament as to what’s in store in the next few years.

The Cougars will play in Kamloops Friday, 7 p.m. at the Sandman Centre, and then host the Blazers at the CN Centre at the same time on Saturday.

The final home game for Prince George is also Fan Appreciation Night, where local company Ridgeline Roofing will be giving away a free roof, the players will be giving away their jerseys off their backs after the game, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free Budweiser or fountain pop.

PRINCE GEORGE TOP FIVE

Vladislav Mikhalchuk = 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists)

Josh Maser = 42 points (30 goals, 12 assists)

Cole Moberg = 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists)

Ryan Schoettler = 32 points (four goals, 28 assists)

Ethan Browne = 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists)

KAMLOOPS TOP FIVE

Zane Franklin = 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists)

Connor Zary = 61 points (22 goals, 39 assists)

Orrin Centazzo = 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists)

Jermaine Loewen = 43 points (26 goals, 17 assists)

Brodi Stuart = 38 points (20 goals, 18 assists)




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Kyle  Balzer

About the Author: Kyle Balzer

Kyle Balzer graduated with distinction from BCIT's Broadcast & Online Journalism program in 2016. Since moving to Prince George, he has covered a variety of stories from education & Indigenous relations, to community interests & sports.
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