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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Pros and cons of 2-3-2) March 24th, 2023...

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Pros and cons of 2-3-2) March 24th, 2023 EDITION 933

Being the higher seed, the Prince George Cougars had the choice in the first round of the WHL playoffs against the Tri-City Americans.

One was to go with a traditional 2-2-1-1-1 format or go with a 2-3-2.

The Cougars, in agreement with the Americans, decided on the 2-3-2.

I understand why Prince George went with this decision but there is a risk and one can only hope it does not backfire on the team.

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The 2-3-2 cuts down on travel and cost.

From a financial standpoint, it makes sense for both teams.

As pointed out in my column last week, it is about a 12 1/2 bus ride from Kennewick, Washington (home of the Americans) to Prince George.

Under the 2-2-1-1-1 format, if the series went the full seven games, Tri-City would make three separate trips to P.G. and the Cougars would make two separate trips to Kennewick.

With the 2-3-2, the travel is cut down substantially with Tri-City making at the most two trips up north and the Cougars making a single trip across the border.

Here’s the downside from a P.G. point of view.

What if the series goes five games?

Tri-City, the 5th seed, would have had three home dates, and P.G., the 4th seed, just two.

That is not a home-ice advantage for the team with a better record.

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Let’s look at another possible scenario and for the sake of argument the first four games are split and Tri-City wins game five.

That puts a lot of pressure on the Cougars to win both games six and seven on home ice to keep their season alive.

Traditionally, it has been very difficult for the Cats to sweep an opponent in back-to-back games at CN Centre.

If the first four are split and the Cougars had game five before their fans, that would seem to be an advantage for P.G., an option that is taken away.

I will point out the difference in thinking between former Cougars GM Todd Harkins (2014-18) and current Cougars coach and GM Mark Lamb (2018-present).

Lamb is confident in his team winning the series no matter where the games are played.

He is a bit of a risk-taker going with the 2-3-2 but if P.G. does not win the series, he will not use that as an excuse.

In 2016-17, the only season the Cougars won the B.C. division title, (record of 45-21-3-3) Prince George was seeded second in the Western Conference in the first round of the playoffs.

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Their first-round opponent was #7 Portland Winterhawks (40-28-1-3), a team much younger than them and 12 points behind P.G. in the standings.

The Winterhawks asked for a 2-3-2 to cut down on travel and expense for both teams.

Harkins wasn’t interested in agreeing to that and after much debate back and forth the Cougars got their way because they were the higher seed and it ended up with the traditional 2-2-1-1.

That series is one many Cougars fans want to forget.

P.G.’s veteran roster lost the opener 4-2 but came back two days later to win game two 5-1.

The Cougars won game three handily on the road 6-1 and looked to be in control of the series.

Prince George jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in game four and led 4-3 after two periods but then came the meltdown.

Portland rallied to win game four 5-4.

On April 1st, 2017 (no fooling) the Winterhawks, despite being outshot 51-28, won game five on the road 5-3 and then Portland went home to capture the series by winning game six 4-2.

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I am sure Cougars fans do not want to relive that considering how successful the regular season was.

At 35-24-6-1, the 2022-23 Cougars, with two games left, have the fifth most victories since the team came to Prince George 29 years ago.

They are only five points better than the 32-26-5-3 Americans.

In other words, there is not a real favored team in this 4-vs-5 matchup.

The 2-2-1-1-1 did not help P.G. six years ago so perhaps 2-3-2 is worth a shot.

With less travel, fatigue should not be a reason for determining the winner.



Game Date Away Home Time
1 March 31, 2023 Tri-City Prince George 7:00 p.m. PT
2 April 1, 2023 Tri-City Prince George 6:00 p.m. PT
3 April 4, 2023 Prince George Tri-City 7:05 p.m. PT
4 April 5, 2023 Prince George Tri-City 7:05 p.m. PT
5 April 7, 2023 Prince George Tri-City 7:05 p.m. PT *
6 April 9, 2023 Tri-City Prince George 6:00 p.m. PT *
7 April 11, 2023 Tri-City Prince George 7:00 p.m. PT *

* – if necessary


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Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He is in his 10th season as the radio colour commentator for Prince George Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the airwaves in PG since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).


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