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Prince George Cougars searching for first win against Kamloops

The last-place Blazers are 2-0 at the CN Centre this season
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Cougars-Blazers-Browne 2018 home red
Ethan Browne (#19) reaches for the puck trickling in front of the Kamloops Blazers net at the CN Centre. (via Prince George Cougars/James Doyle Photography)

If cats do have nine lives, that means the Cougars have six more chances to best the bottom team in their conference.

Prince George and Kamloops play each other nine times this year, with this weekend marking the fourth and fifth games of the 2018-19 season series.

Three times the Prince George Cougars and Kamloops Blazers have met each other up until now, including two at the CN Centre where the Blazers broke out the brooms.

Cougars-Blazers-Maser 2018 home fightJosh Maser (#11) drops the gloves with a Kamloops player at the CN Centre. (via Prince George Cougars/James Doyle Photography)

Kamloops dominated the Cats by a combined 12-4 in the doubleheader, winning 5-1 on Nov. 17 and 7-3 on Nov. 18.

(The Blazers also won the first meeting in their barn with the Cougars on Dec. 30 by a score of 2-1.)

The visitors were able to score early and often, despite which period they were playing in, and the Cougars were not able to keep up with the pace, a skill Kamloops has in terms of an east-west performance, especially when Prince George got sent to the penalty box.

In those two games, Kamloops also took advantage on special teams combining for five power-play goals; they currently sit as the sixth best power-play team in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

It’s also interesting to note that the games were played on a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Now, both teams are in a similar scenario, playing Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Prince George, but perhaps the Cougars will have a much different mindset this time.

Goaltender Taylor Gauthier has been playing phenomenal in the New Year with two shutouts in his last five starts, and four wins in his last six.

The 17-year-old had been solidifying himself as a draft-worthy prospect by earning the WHL Goaltender of the Week honours on Monday, and recording 43 saves against Prince Albert on Wednesday despite losing to the top team in Canada.

 

The second line of Josh Maser, Ethan Browne and Vladislav Mikhalchuk has been on fire as of late, combing for 17 points in the last five games, including eight goals.

Look for these guys to be physical on the boards and aggressive on the offense against a rough-and-tough Kamloops core.

The Cougars are the second wild-card spot in the WHL playoffs, recording four wins in their last six games going into the weekend.

They’re only two points ahead of their B.C. Division rivals, so scoring early and sending a statement should be the key to coming out with four more points.

Puck drops are 7 p.m. (Saturday, Jan. 19) and 2 p.m. (Sunday, Jan. 20).

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS (16-23-1-2)

Vladislav Mikhalchuk = 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists)

Josh Maser = 26 points (16 goals, 10 assists)

Cole Moberg = 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists)

Ethan Browne = 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists)

Joel Lakusta = 21 points (five goals, 16 assists)

KAMLOOPS BLAZERS (15-23-2-1)

Zane Franklin = 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists)

Orrin Centazzo = 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists)

Connor Zary = 34 points (nine goals, 25 assists)

Martin Lang = 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists)

Brodi Stuart = 22 points (13 goals, nine 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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