It’s March Madness. Prince George hockey fans don’t have to wait for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that begins Tuesday because their favorite teams have created their own electrifying March drama.

Case #1-The PG Cougars: A team currently in a playoff spot by two points thanks to a recent 7-1-0-2 stretch that included many come from behind thrilling efforts.

Case #2-The PG Spruce Kings: They beat Langley in six for their first playoff series win in 10 years but not before some anxious moments. The turning point was game five when the Spruce Kings erased a one goal deficit on three occasions before winning 5-4 in overtime. The next night, P.G. frantically held on at the end for a 3-2 triumph that allowed the Spruce Kings to advance to the Mainland Division final against the Chilliwack Chiefs.

Case #3-The Cariboo Cougars: heavily favored as regular season champions in the BCMML but needing to go the distance against the 8th place Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. The Cariboo Cats survived, taking the third and deciding game 4-2 after the first two were split: (3-1 for Cariboo and 4-2 for Fraser Valley). Now the major midget Cougars gear up for a home best of three semi-final appearance this weekend against the 7th place South Island Royals at Kin 1.

Case #4-The Vancouver Canucks: Just 15 games to go, the Canucks cling to a playoff spot albeit a number of teams are within striking distance. Vancouver already has more wins this season than last, but the journey to the post-season is far from complete. The Canucks never seem to go on a long winning or losing streak, which keeps their faithful followers jittery, game in and game out, regardless if they are playing a powerhouse or a bottom feeder. With the Canucks, nothing but nothing is to be taken for granted.

March Madness hockey style can bring out the best or worst of any team. In the Prince George Cougars situation, the team battled through hardship and recovered from a well-documented 12 game losing streak in January to put themselves in a position to capture a playoff berth for the first time in four years. The job isn’t done yet, but they control their own destiny with five games remaining: at Tri-City, at Portland and the final three against Kamloops, with two of them at CN Centre. The Cougars are two points ahead of Kamloops in the B.C. Division and two points in front of Tri-City in the Western Conference. They must remain ahead of one of those teams to secure a post-season spot.

Generally speaking, scoring first and taking the lead is paramount to victory but the Cougars took an unconventional root in late February and early March. Let’s give ourselves a refresher course during the Cats 5-0-1 run prior to Wednesday’s 7-4 loss in Kamloops:

Feb 21—-Moose Jaw scores first but the Cougars win on home ice 4-2.

Feb 27th—Seattle leads 3-1 and 4-3 but the Cougars win 5-4 on the road in overtime.

Feb 28th—Everett scores first but the Cougars win handily on the road 5-1.

March 4th—Calgary scores first but the Cougars win on home ice 3-2.

March 6th—Victoria scores first and leads 2-0 but the Cougars win on home ice 4-3.

March 7th—-Victoria scores first and leads 3-0 but the Cougars rally for a point. The Cats dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in a game that needed 11 rounds of a shootout.

Last Saturday’s Cougars game was an indication that their fans will respond favorably to a promotion tied to a charity, and to players that literally will battle through adversity regardless of the score or circumstance. On a night the Spruce Kings hosted a playoff game with 937 fans at the Coliseum, the Cougars nearly filled CN Centre with an appreciative crowd of 5,404. Many of those in attendance were there to be part of a record 50-50 draw that totalled $67,095, the first $25,000 of which was put up by Cougars ownership. Half of the grand total went to the Shelly L. Mrkonjic ALS Research Fund. Shelly, the mother of Tyler Mrkonjic, died of ALS in 2006. Tyler, not normally a goal scorer, found the back of net to put the Cats on the board and start the comeback. How’s that for intrigue?

Yes, the PG Cougars, Spruce Kings, Cariboo Cougars and Canucks all have a common theme in that they keep their fans on edge, seldom with a moment to relax and let’s face it that is part of the fun. Without the losses, you cannot appreciate the wins. Enjoy the ride! After all, it’s MARCH MADNESS!

From the Quote Rack:

Ndamakong Suh has signed with the Miami Dolphins. So, the one-time No-Name Defense will now become the No-Shame Defense.

Vlade Divac wants to be the NBA’s new flopping czar. Wouldn’t that be like putting Lance Armstrong in charge of drug testing at the Tour de France?

Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

To eliminate some of the back-to-back games and insane road trips, the NBA is thinking of lengthening the season into July. Great, so this means the playoffs would finish the week before the start of pre-season?

Forget those rumors of retirement, Marshawn Lynch has signed a two-year extension with the Seahawks. So I guess Lynch is going to postpone plans to star in a remake of “The Longest Yard.”

Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Reminder to Maple Leafs fans that April 11 is Fan Appreciation Day and end of the regular season. Don’t forget that after this day you will have to find alternate means of disposing of your Leaf jerseys.

The oldest Facebook user has been revealed as a 107 year old woman. Her profile states that she went to Washington State and is a lifelong Cougar.

Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver (http://alwaysfunny.com/)

I’m not saying Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are too old for a marquee fight. But if one is suspected of biting an ear, officials will check for denture cream.

According to Forbes, Michael Jordan is worth over $1 billion. What do we call him now, His Billion-Aireness?

Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

And in case you missed it:

A 50-year old San Francisco man claims that he is Wilt Chamberlain’s son. Vegas bookmakers have set the odds of this being legit at 20,000 to 1.

Comedy writer Marc Ragovin

Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat. His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller