It’s mid-May and for the Prince George Cougars and PG Spruce Kings, there is no more play.

The development season inside a “bubble” has shall I say “wrapped” up.

Each player was very appreciative to be given an opportunity to compete despite circumstances being far from ideal.

The (14-5-0-1) Spruce Kings were first in their 3-team Chilliwack Pod with the third most points out of 16 BCHL teams.

The (9-10-2-1) Cougars placed fourth in their 5-team WHL BC Division Kamloops Pod.

Despite the substantial difference in record and placing, there was a common denominator between the two local teams.

Both excelled in the net.

The Spruce Kings went with three rookies (Aaron Trotter, Jordan Fairlie, and Kobe Grant) who as a group allowed just 37 goals, second-fewest in the BCHL behind the Penticton Vees who surrendered just 23.

“We are proud of our goalies the way they improved and our entire team defense was good as well. We were not giving up a lot of scoring chances five-on-five so it was easier for them to make that transition to junior hockey,” said Spruce Kings head coach Alex Evin in an interview with Brendan Pawliw of MyPGNow.com.

The Cougars got solid goaltending from Tyler Brennan before he departed for the World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Texas. (He was part of the Canadian team that won gold although he did not see any action).

In four games with the Cougars, Brennan posted a 2-0-1-1 record with a 2.16 GAA and an 0.933 save percentage. He earned a 65-minute shutout in a 1-0 shootout loss to Vancouver on April 4th. 

Taylor Gauthier carried most of the load after Brennan left the team and was arguably the best goalie in the division down the stretch.

Gauthier, who turned 20 this year, was never better in a P.G. uniform, earning back-to-back WHL Goalie of the Week honors.

In his last seven games, he allowed 11 goals with a save percentage of nearly .960.

On the season, he appeared in 15 games (7-8 record) and finished with a .915 save percentage to go along with a 2.74 GAA.

Keep in mind that Brennan and Gauthier played behind the second-youngest team in the league.

Four of the Cougars’ seven defensemen were 17 or younger.

Both the Spruce Kings and Cougars will have a pleasant problem come next season.

In the Spruce Kings case, it appears all three of their goalies can play at a high level in the league. (Grant only played in two games but got a shutout in both).

Of course, three is a crowd so a decision out of strength will have to be made.

Trotter (01), with one year of eligibility left, is a year older than Fairlie (02) and Grant (02).

In the Cougars case, does Gauthier come back for a 5th and final season as an overage player, or does the team hand the starting job to Brennan (in his draft year) with Ty Young the back-up?

Young played his first three WHL games in Kamloops this spring.

Goaltending and hockey decisions, development of young players, and strength of the team.

All good normal hockey topics to discuss going forward rather than how COVID-19 will impact the team, the league, and the season.

With more and more fans receiving their vaccination 21-22 seems far more promising than 20-21.

The Spruce Kings and Cougars will remember their “bubble” experience but would be more than happy never to have to go thru it again.


Cat Scan podcast:

Prince George Cougars captain Jack Sander concluded his four-year WHL career in Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Kamloops. In this week’s Cat Scan podcast, Sander discusses a variety of topics including:

  • Biggest hurdles players faced while inside the BC Division Hub
  • Reaching the 200 games played milestone
  • Relationship with his billet family
  • How he found out about being named team captain

 

Taking Note:


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Medina Spirit will be allowed to race in Preakness. Whatever happens, at least the horse is one athlete who can claim he didn’t have any idea he might be using a banned substance.

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

Proposed trade! Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers to the Cleveland Browns for Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., and a shoehorn to be named later.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The Atlanta Falcons signed undrafted Jack Batho IV, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle from South Dakota School of the Mines. Hey, if a guy from there can’t open a hole, who can?

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


IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

Standard Magazine reports heavy-metal fans are among the most anxious and depressed in the world. In fact, they rank a close second to followers of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca