Arguably, the Prince George Cougars’ toughest on-ice decision to make for the 2021-22 season is who will be their starting goaltender?

On one hand, there is four-year, incumbent Taylor Gauthier, who is coming off a superb performance in the Kamloops hub, where he was a back-to-back winner of the Goalie of the Week Award late in the season.

On the other hand, there is Tyler Brennan, who is two years younger and is poised to play the bulk of the games in his upcoming NHL Draft season.

Gauthier and Brennan have similarities; both are first-round WHL bantam picks of the Cougars and each has worn a Team Canada jersey at various international tournaments.

However, both are at different stages of their careers.

Gauthier, as a 20-year-old in the upcoming season, has one year of WHL eligibility left. (There is a possibility that he could turn pro)

Brennan, as an 18-year-old, has up to three seasons remaining.

This is not necessarily a question of who is the better goalie; it is a question of who is the better fit for the team both short-term and long-term.

Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb addressed the issue during last week’s Cat Scan podcast. (just past the 16-minute mark of the interview)

“We have the strongest goaltending I believe in the league. We think our depth of goaltending is the strength of our organization,” said Lamb.

The Cougars have a number of goalie prospects that could back up Brennan, should the team part with Gauthier at some point.

One of the prospects is Ty Young (2004), who played three games in the Kamloops bubble while Brennan was away with Team Canada at the world under-18 hockey championship last month in Texas.

Lamb admits that both Gauthier and Brennan need to play well more than half of the 68 games in the 2021-22 season.

“That’s true. They both are very capable. In Brennan, he hasn’t had that opportunity yet, we think he is ready.”

Lamb adds “Is there a trade that’s available for goaltending? That’s where we are at. If we have both of those two, we know we are strong with either one in the net.”

It is hard to imagine that barring injury, both Gauthier and Brennan would remain Cougars for the entire next season.

“It totally makes sense. Gauthier is the older guy, he should pass the reins on to Brennan and then go from there. It is more complicated than that where we are sitting right now,” stated Lamb.

There is no urgency to make the decision this summer.

“They both need their games. We are going to have to deal with that when the time comes,” said Lamb.

The 56-year-old Lamb has to do what is right for the Cougars but secondly, he wants what is best for the player.

“I get very loyal especially to a kid like Taylor. I have known him longer than I have known anybody since I have been here. If they are not going to be with you, then you want to put him in a really good situation where he can have success and move his career further,” stated Lamb.

Coaches love when they make a decision based on strength.

Despite being one of the league’s top goalies, Gauthier has not yet been to the WHL playoffs.

That could change in 2022.

The question remains though, in which uniform would he be wearing?


Cat Scan podcast:

Prince George Cougars V.P .of Business Andy Beesley is the guest this week in the final Cat Scan podcast of the season. Beesley discusses several topics including:

  • Ticket prices for the next season.
  • The team’s tentative 2021-22 schedule.
  • Promotions to welcome back the fans to CN Centre.
  • The euphoria of hearing that B.C. could return to “normal” as soon as September 7th.
  • How much he has learned after being with the team in his current position for seven years.


Taking Note:


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Wonder after his PGA victory if 50-year-old Phil Mickelson will be invited on any of the late-night talk shows? Of course, Lefty may first have to schedule a nap to stay up that late.

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

Wide receiver Julio Jones says he wants out of Atlanta and word is that the Browns are in a good position to get him. Upon hearing this, all orthopedic doctors and surgeons in the Cleveland area have gone on high alert.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney, the New York Giants first-round draft pick, had to run individual drills in his bare feet on the first day of rookie minicamp because the team issued him cleats a couple of sizes too small. Hey, it’s better than telling him he had some mighty big shoes to fill.

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


IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

New Detroit Lions bench boss, Dan Campbell, told team ownership he wants a pet lion roaming at practice to motivate the team. Another statement from the coach to give us paws.

*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 color 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