There is no March Madness for Prince George junior hockey fans.

In fact, the home season concludes much earlier than a year ago.

After winning the Doyle Cup on May 4th, 2019 at the RMCA, the PG Spruce Kings played their last home game exactly two months earlier in 2020.

The Spruce Kings had little firepower in a first-round series this year against the Trail Smoke Eaters, scoring just three goals in the four games.

The Smoke Eaters completed the sweep on Tuesday, March 4th following a 3-1 victory at the RMCA.

The Spruce Kings will not play a regular-season home game again until well into September, an extended break of more than six months.

After home games this weekend against the Vancouver Giants, the Prince George Cougars are destined to also have a long break of more than half-a-year between games at the CN Centre.

The Cougars ordinarily finish with a home and home against Kamloops in mid-March but because of the World Women’s Curling Championship March 14th to 22nd in P.G., the Cats are scheduled to play their last home game two weeks earlier than the two previous seasons.

With the playoffs realistically out of reach, (nine points out with eight to play) the Cougars have their last six games on the road and then they face another long off-season break of half-a-year.

Saturday’s game could be an emotional one for Josh Maser, Ryan Schoettler and Vladislav Mikhalchuk, the three PG 20-year-olds who likely will be playing their last home game in the WHL.

Maser and Schoettler have been with team four years and Mikhalchuk three.

All three can be proud of their accomplishments, on and off the ice.

Maser, the Cougars leading scorer, has been the ultimate power forward who developed into a leader while proudly wearing the “C” this season.

He will be disappointed not getting into a WHL playoff game in his four seasons, but sometimes a player is a victim of circumstance regardless of the effort they put forward.

Maser grew up in Houston, B.C., had a one-game stint in Prince Albert before getting an opportunity to play close to his hometown and elevating his role each season.

Schoettler, who leads the team in assists, has been a quiet leader.

Because of his size (5’10, 175), he may not have received plenty of attention from scouts, but Schoettler has been arguably the team’s most reliable defenceman, who often plays against the opposition’s top line.

Mikhalchuk gave the KHL a brief look at the start of this season but quickly asked to make a return to Prince George.

It took a little while for him to get back up to speed, but he has shown flashes of an offensive flair at an elite level that had him lead the team in scoring in the 2018-19 season.

With the Major Midget Cariboo Cougars possibly not having any more home games, there really will be a void on the hockey home front in P.G. once this weekend concludes.

Yes, the points count the same as any other regular-season game; yes, it’s not necessarily the intensity of a playoff game, but on Fan Appreciation Night it will be a notable game on Saturday when the 2019-20 Cougars have their Final Countdown.

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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 25th Cat-Scan in year two is Hartley’s guest is former Cougars forward Andrew Luciuk.

Andrew talks about his memories of the 1997 Cougars playoff run, his pro hockey career that followed, including how he dealt with a significant back injury, and his life today as a corrections officer.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:  

The New York Knicks deny that Spike Lee was ejected from Madison Square Garden, which was verified by the other four fans who actually decided to try to watch the entire game.

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

The NBA is issuing guidelines to avoid the spread of coronavirus, as in having players fist-bump fans instead of giving them high-fives, and avoiding signing autographs. Well, good news for the Knicks, guessing not that many fans want their autographs.

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

Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49’ers accepted the NFL Coach of the Year Award in Kansas City. Isn’t that like Napoleon accepting Emperor of the Year in Waterloo?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Detroit came in dead last when WalletHub.com came out with its Hardest-Working Cities in America rankings. “Thanks to us,” said the Red Wings, who’ve rung up a whopping NHL-worst minus-121 goal differential in their first 68 games this season.”

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

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Saluting the Tim Horton’s Brier and the Academy Awards: the top five best-picture-Oscar curling movies:
5. The Silence of the Jams;
4. Lord of the Rings: In-turn of the King;
3. Casa Blank End;
2. Forrest Bump;
1. A Rockalypse Now.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca