36 complete and 32 to go!
With a record of 17-17-1-1, the Prince George Cougars are just passed the halfway mark through their 2021-22 WHL regular-season schedule.
The way the Western Conference is shaping up, there appears to be the top five (Everett, Kamloops, Seattle, Portland, and Kelowna) and then there’s a drop to the bottom five (Prince George, Vancouver, Victoria, Spokane, and Tri-City).
The Cougars, riding a four-game winning streak, are the top team in the bottom five and there is no reason they can not at least maintain their position and end up 6th in the conference standings.
P.G. has won four of its last five against Vancouver and the Giants practically gave up on their season when they dealt two high-end players (2002-born forward/captain Justin Sourdif to Edmonton and 2002-born defenceman Tanner Brown to Winnipeg) for a total of three first-round picks, two of them this year and another in 2025.
The Cougars are 7-0 this season against Victoria having outscored the Royals 29-9.
Prince George has a healthy lead over Tri-city (10 points) and Spokane (13 points).
Both the Americans and Chiefs likely won’t win much in the second half because they are in the strong U.S. Division.
The Cougars promising young talent is leading the way for the team.
Their top five scorers are 18 or younger with Koehn Ziemmer, who just turned 17, leading the way.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 20, 2022
Seven of their eight defencemen are also 18 or younger and both their goalies are 18 or younger, led by the WHL goalie of the week Tyler Brennan.
(The Cougars roster of 22 only has one 19-year-old and three players that are 20).
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 17, 2022
Sure, the Cougars’ power-play has been dismal (last in the league at 16.4 %) on the season but has been much better in recent games.
The P.G. penalty kill has been in the top 10 all season and currently sits 9th (at 79.3 %).
Prince George has a minus 10 goal-differential but that is still considerably better than the four clubs below them in the conference.
Despite being one of the youngest teams in the league, the Cougars have played well with the lead, sitting a perfect 11-0 when ahead after two periods.
Coming from behind has been the opposite, going 0-16-1-1 when trailing after 40 minutes.
Slow starts have been a concern although the team tends to get better as the game wears on.
The Cats have been outscored 40-27 in the first period and 44-37 in the second, however, P.G. has outscored the opposition 37-28 in the third.
There is a possibility of Prince George playing Portland in the first round of the playoffs and that would mean Brennan against ex-Cougar Taylor Gauthier of the Winterhawks in the battle of the net.
The 20-year-old Gauthier has been outstanding since joining the Winterhawks late last month in a trade with Prince George.
He is 3-0 with Portland with a 0.949 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.00.
Overall, Gauthier in 17 games leads the WHL with a 0.928 save percentage.
The Cougars would take the match-up, even though their preference may not be to go head to head with “Goats.”
Do you remember in 2017, the last year the Cougars were in the playoffs, Prince George was upset by Portland in the first round?
The players may be different but the Cougars may get their chance at payback five years later.
Sure there’s half a season to sort things out but projecting forward is half the fun.
Cat Scan podcast:
CAT SCAN: @Hartley_Miller sits down with Lynne Van Roode, the WHL Off-Ice Officials Volunteer Co-ordinator (Prince George) in this week’s episode | #cityofpg https://t.co/v88bFDDRza #princegeorgebc #northernbc #sports pic.twitter.com/egd1J6mU6p
— My Prince George Now (@mypgnow) January 20, 2022
WHL now has paused 21 of 22 teams . . . Hitmen take two games to alternate arena . . . SJHL is having COVID-19 issues, too https://t.co/Sp5HAstBea
— Gregg Drinnan (@gdrinnan) January 21, 2022
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) January 16, 2022
Joe Judge, fired as the NFL Giants’ coach on Tuesday (Jan 11), had nine boxes of pizza as well as several cases of Michelob Ultra and Coors Light delivered to his house the next day, TMZ reported. Surprisingly, the deliveries were not fumbled or intercepted on the way to his doorstep.
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
Just saw that Tom Brady said in a recent interview he doesn’t receive favorable treatment on roughing the passer calls. Points to the Bucs QB for saying this with a straight face.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
After jumping to an early big lead, the 49ers hung on for dear life to eke out a win over the Cowboys. I think someone needs to tell Jimmy Garoppolo not to put it into cruise control with a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
Former NFL linebacker Bart Scott said the best thing players can do to prepare for a cold game is to take Viagra to get the blood pumping. This could bring new meaning to a hard tackle.
*Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg
In Case You Missed It:
In the wildcard game, Patriots’ kicker Nick Folk was trying to end the first half with a field goal when the Bills called a timeout. It was -21 Celsius with windchill — do you really need to ice the kicker?
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com