Yes, the Victoria Royals were undermanned, sure the Royals are rebuilding and are arguably the worst team in the WHL Western Conference, but the Prince George Cougars needed the confidence booster.

The two teams met five times over the past couple of weeks and P.G. won all of them.

The youthful Cougars (with an average age of under-18) believe they are on the upswing and on the verge of taking a significant leap.

No one has to remind Cougar fans it has been since the 2016-2017 season since this team made the playoffs.

Grabbing a wild-card spot in the 2021-22 season may be interpreted as a consolation prize for Prince George.

This isn’t to suggest the Cougars will be challenging the highly-regarded Kamloops Blazers for the B.C. division title, but a second or third-place finish is a reasonable expectation with perhaps loftier goals in the following season or two.

After starting 0-3 (losses of 5-4 and 8-3 to Kamloops and 6-4 to Vancouver) it would have been easy to hear the alarm bells going off of “here we go again.”

Having so many consecutive games against Victoria was just what the doctor ordered, especially when you win convincingly.

With scores of 3-1, 4-2, 4-1, 5-1, and 4-0 (total of 20-5), the Cougars sent a message they are primed, eager, and ready to win.

Sure, there will be a much stiffer test Saturday at home against Kamloops, but the results, and not just the talk, have to start somewhere.

To be fair, the Royals were banged up with several injuries and because of that, they did not have a full complement of 18 skaters in any of those five games.

That is not Prince George’s fault.

When the opposition is wounded, the killer instinct needs to set in and that is what happened.

Discipline was a problem for the Cats but that also turned out to be a blessing as the penalty kill was 29-for-31 over the five-game stretch.

Allowing just five goals in five games wasn’t just a tribute to the excellent goaltending of Tyler Brennan and Taylor Gauthier but also to the strength of the commitment to the defensive side of the game.

Despite all the power plays, the Royals averaged just 27 shots per game.

The P.G. goalies were superb but were only named a Game Star twice, Gauthier was #3 in the 3-1 opening win and Brennan was #2 in the 4-0 victory that was played on Wednesday.

In the past, if a Cougar goalie was not making breath-taking saves and a first or second star, the team hardly won.

A realist suggests putting things into perspective.

It’s early, it’s only eight games and the team has yet to win against a team not named Victoria.

This is all fair enough, but it is a positive sign and something to build on.

For the next two months, the schedule gets much tougher as the Cougars do not play the Royals again until the new year.

In their next 10 games, the Cougars face Kelowna four times, Vancouver three times, Tri-City twice, and Kamloops once.

The following 10 games come just before the Christmas break.

Prince George will be on the road for one each to Seattle, Portland, Spokane, and Tri-City before meeting division opponents again, Vancouver (3), Kamloops (2), and Kelowna (1).

This will give us a much better indication of where the Cougars sit and how much progress they have made.

Going 5-for-5 against Victoria has laid the groundwork for a promising season.

It is now in the hands of the players and coaching staff to show the team is ready to compete and win their share of games against the better teams.

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This week (season four) on the Cat Scan podcast my guest is Prince George Cougars account executive Kevin Patenaude. The topics discussed include:

  • Interactions with ticket holders
  • Enticing new fans to the games
  • Pricing/package options
  • Promotions at CN Centre and other leagues

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK

The NHL suspended San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games for using a fake COVID-vaccine card. Apparently, someone in HR did some cross-checking.

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

This just in…an unnamed source familiar with the situation has confirmed monetary figures needed for hush money and payoffs to head off an investigation into emails concerning the Washington Football Team. Forbes estimates that these reported figures would constitute the world’s seventh-largest economy.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

New York Yankees first base coach Reggie Willits is leaving at the end of the year to become a volunteer assistant for Oklahoma’s college baseball program. Now Willits is from Oklahoma. But if he wanted to work for an amateur team closer to home I guess the Texas Rangers weren’t hiring?

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

In Case You Missed It:

A recent viral video shows a New York store is invaded by a group of ducks. Despite the pedestrian traffic, there were no quack-ups.

*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)