WHL notebook: Prince George making a run

  • By Nick Patterson Herald writer
  • Monday, February 10, 2014 4:50pm
  • SportsSports

Don’t look now, but here come the Prince George Cougars.

The much-maligned northern British Columbia franchise hasn’t had much to get excited about recently, but Prince George is on its best run in years and pulling itself back into the Western Conference playoff race.

“We’re winning lots now and it’s the belief in the room we can score five goals a night and if we’re down one or two it doesn’t seem to faze us anymore,” Cougars captain Troy Bourke told the Prince George Citizen. “We’re coming back in games and starting games better and it’s exciting. It shows guys are paying the price when you’re up 7-1 and guys like (Jansen) Harkins are laying out and blocking shots. For a captain, that’s pretty cool to see.”

Prince George has long been a Western Conference doormat. The Cougars haven’t had a winning season since 2006-07. Prince George made the playoffs just twice in the ensuing six seasons, and both times the Cougars were swept out of the first round.

It seemed this season Prince George was destined for a similar fate, as the Cougars fell well out of a playoff spot in ninth place in the conference. However, a recent eastern road trip sparked Prince George to a six-game winning streak. As a result, going into Monday’s action Prince George suddenly found itself just two points behind Tri-City for the conference’s eighth-and-final playoff spot.

The Cougars have been winning in style, too. It didn’t look like that would develop at the beginning of Prince George’s six-game swing through the East Division, as the Cougars opened the trip with an 8-0 loss at Regina and a 6-3 defeat at Brandon.

However, a 6-5 shootout victory at Prince Albert two nights later got the winning streak started. Subsequent wins included a 10-6 victory at Saskatoon, a 6-2 victory at East Division-leading Swift Current, and a 7-1 thrashing of Red Deer at home on Saturday.

“The veterans are doing their jobs and if you look at those three 16-year-olds (Harkins, Brad Morrison, Tate Olson), since they came back from the World Under-17s they’ve kind of taken off here and gone to another level,” Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson told the Citizen.

All six of Prince George’s wins during the streak came against Eastern Conference competition. The rest of the Cougars’ games are against Western Conference foes. So if the Cougars are to continue their winning ways, they’ll have to get results against the teams they’re chasing.

Around the WHL

Former Kamloops alternate governor Dennis Coates was the recipient of the WHL Distinguished Service Award for the 2013-14 season. Coates was part of the ownership group that brought the Blazers to Kamloops in 1981, and he remained involved with the team through 2008. … Lethbridge fired assistant coach Brad Lukowich, saying Lukowich was “terminated for cause.” Lukowich was added to the Hurricanes coaching staff last June. … Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 18-year-old forward had three goals and eight assists as the Ice went 3-0. … Prince George’s Todd Fiddler was named the WHL Player of the Month for January. The 20-year-old forward had 16 goals and 13 assists in 14 games. … Tri-City’s Eric Comrie was named the WHL Goaltender of the Month for January. The 18-year-old was 8-2-0-1 with a 1.35 goals against average and .962 save percentage.

League leaders

Points — Mitch Holmberg (Spokane) 93; goals — Holmberg 47; assists — Nicolas Petan (Portland) 63; penalty minutes — Ryan Rehill (Kamloops) 151; wins — Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 35; goals against average — Coleman Vollrath (Victoria) 2.21; save percentage — Vollrath .932.

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

More in Sports

Stanwood sweeps Arlington in clash of Wesco 3A unbeatens

Devon Martinka led the Spartans to victory, registering 17 kills.

UW men’s basketball team learning new way under Hopkins

The Huskies will use a 2-3 zone as its base defense this season.

Poll: Help us plan this week’s high school football coverage

Which of the following Friday games would you like to see video… Continue reading

Thiel: Baldwin, Sherman explain how path to social justice is walked

One of the great appeals of sports is resolution. Spend a little… Continue reading

Silvertips set for 1st home game in more than 3 weeks

Everett won three of its nine games on its last road trip.

Tuesday’s prep results, links and recaps

Here are Tuesday’s prep sports results, recaps and links: BOYS TENNIS 4A… Continue reading

Tuesday’s prep stars of the night

Emma Carlton, Mount Vernon swimming Carlton, a senior Texas A&M commit, is… Continue reading

Olympic gymnast alleges sexual abuse by team doctor

McKayla Maroney said the molestation began when she was 13 and lasted throughout her career.

Everett Memorial Stadium’s baseball field converting to turf

The Mariners, Everett School District and others had to sign off on switch to an artificial surface.

Most Read