“Missed it by that much.”

Fans of the 1960s TV series Get Smart remember those words that were synonymous with Maxwell Smart, also known as Agent 86, played by the late Don Adams.

The Prince George Cougars and the PG Spruce Kings are in a season where they have “missed it by that much.”

Both teams lost their last game at home this week by a goal.

The Cougars fell 5-4 in overtime to the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday and the Spruce Kings followed suit dropping a 3-2 decision to the Chilliwack Chiefs Thursday night.

Coming up a goal short has become commonplace in 2019-20 for both the Cougars and the Spruce Kings.

It is a major reason why both junior hockey teams sit in last place in their division.

We know there is such a fine line to winning and losing.

Winning teams, like the Spruce Kings, were in both 2017-18 and 2018-19, find a way to secure victory a vast majority of games decided by a goal (or perhaps two if you include an empty netter).

Losing teams, on the other hand, often get close, sometimes even blowing a lead, but most of the time are on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Let’s start with the Spruce Kings.

Sure, they are given a pass because they are the defending BCHL champions who are in transition with a mostly new roster from the team that captured the Fred Page Cup and reached the national junior A championship game (known once again as the Centennial Cup) in May.

The (11-17-2-3) Spruce Kings though are leading the league-again but this time in one-goal losses.

Of the 33 games they have played, exactly one-third (11) have been losses by a goal, five of them coming beyond regulation time in either overtime or a shootout.

That number increases to 12 if one includes an empty-net goal the Spruce Kings gave up in a 4-2 home loss to the Surrey Eagles in their season-opener on September 6th.

On the other hand, the Spruce Kings have won just six games by a goal, or eight games if two victories with an empty netter are included.

The (6-18-1-2) Cougars have played a total of 27 games, 10 of which have been one-goal losses, including two in a shootout and one in overtime.

In addition, the Cats gave up an empty-netter in a season-opening 5-3 loss to Vancouver September 20th and surrendered two late empty-net goals in a 5-2 loss October 26th in Tri-City.

Taking this a step further, seven of the last nine losses by the Cougars have been by a goal.

Of their six victories, three have been by one goal and another came when P.G. tallied into an empty net.

The moral of the story is both the Cougars and Spruce Kings have lost many more one-goal decisions than they have won.

Because the Spruce Kings play in the BCHL, where 16 of 17 teams make the playoffs, they can get a fresh start once the post-season rolls around in March.

Even though they are at the bottom of the Mainland Division (tied with Surrey but the Eagles have two games in hand) the Spruce Kings are a lock to secure a playoff spot since they are ahead of three teams, including an 11-point margin over West Kelowna.

The Cougars, on the other hand, are sitting 12 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference where 8 of the 10 teams advance.

Both the WHL and BCHL have become so competitive from top to bottom that it is not a shocker when on any given night a last-place team beats a first-place team.

Examples are two recent wins at home by the Cougars over BC Division-leading Kamloops (Nov 22 and 23) and the Spruce Kings winning in Penticton 5-3 over the Interior Division-leading Vees (Nov. 27).

Talent certainly plays a factor but often teams that have mentally strong players are the ones that are able to grind out many more one-goal victories than losses.

Having a knack for winning tight games is a sure sign that the team is ready to compete for a championship.

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This is season two of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that primarily features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest on the 12th Cat Scan in year two is PG Cougars team president and minority owner John Pateman.

John discusses many key topics related to the Cougars, including his long-term commitment to the team and attendance at CN Centre.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:  

Babe Ruth’s 500th home run bat will be sold for possibly more than $1 Million. You would think the Detroit Tigers’ bats would be worth more as Ruth’s are worn out and theirs are still like new.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

Ron Rivera was fired as Panthers coach so will miss the rest of the season. This makes him at this point maybe luckier than the Carolina season ticket holders.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges came off the bench to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cincinnati Bengals. So if he goes on to become the next great QB in the team’s history, do we call this Steeler period the ‘Duck Dynasty’?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore drew a costly unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after a TD catch in a one-point game when he celebrated by getting down on all fours and lifting his leg like a dog at a hydrant. The official who threw the flag certainly puts a whole new spin on “Looking out for No. 1.”

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/


IN CASE YOU MISS
ED IT:

The 10-2 Ravens have won eight straight after that 20-17 victory over San Francisco.
The best word to describe the play of Baltimore’s quarterback this season, — Lamarkable.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com


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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]