WHL notebook: Cougars fire Clark

The Prince George Cougars became the third team to fire their head coach this season when they parted ways with Dean Clark last week.

The Cougars wasted no time finding a replacement, hiring former Kootenay Ice coach Mark Holick the next day.

Clark spent three-plus seasons with Prince George, guiding the Cougars to an 83-163-5-11 record. This season Prince George was 14-26-2-4 under Clark and in position to miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

“We’ve gotten a little stale and we needed to correct that,” Prince George general manager Dallas Thompson told the Prince George Citizen following the firing. “I didn’t want to do this today, but obviously when things happen you look around a little bit and talk to some people and go from there. This isn’t a move we wanted to be making today. We made a long-term commitment to Dean, unfortunately we just thought we needed to do something here to get a fresh start and get moving in a different way.”

Thompson told the Citizen that the recent defections of forwards Alex Forsberg and Daulton Siwak, who both left the team, did not play a role in Clark’s firing.

The next morning the Cougars announced Holick as their new head coach. Holick coached Kootenay from 2007-10, guiding the Ice to a 120-75-10-11 record and earning WHL Coach of the Year honors in 2010. He spent two seasons coaching in the American Hockey league, then spent the past few months scouting for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.

“I was just very comfortable with him and the approach he wants to take with the players,” Thompson told the Citizen. “I think he’s more of a players’ coach. Certainly there will be a little more of a different attitude in the dressing room.”

Prince George is the only team that fired a coach this season that has hired a replacement. Everett’s Mark Ferner and Red Deer’s Jesse Wallin were both replaced behind the bench by their general managers — Everett’s Garry Davidson, Red Deer’s Brent Sutter — on an interim basis.

Around the WHL

Red Deer star defenseman Mathew Dumba has returned to the team. Dumba made the opening-day roster for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, but he was returned to Red Deer without appearing in a game. … WHL alumnus Scott Niedermayer had a busy week. The former Kamloops defenseman and recently retired NHL star was given the WHL Alumni Achievement Award, then had his No. 28 retired by the Blazers. … Victoria acquired the rights to 18-year-old defenseman Troy Stecher from Portland in exchange for two eighth-round picks in the 2013 bantam draft. The trade deadline has passed, but teams are still allowed to trade players who are on their protected lists, but not on their rosters. Edmonton’s Henrik Samuelsson was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 18-year-old winger had two goals and eight assists and the Oil Kings went 4-0.

League leaders

Points — Nicolas Petan (Portland) 85; goals — Todd Fiddler (Spokane) 35; assists — Petan 52; penalty minutes — Carter Proft (Spokane) 147; wins — Jordon Cooke (Kelowna) 27; goals against average — Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 1.62; save percentage — Jarry .935.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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