It is the second weekend of the WHL season with the first road games coming up for the Prince George Cougars.
The (1-1) Cougars are on Vancouver Island for a doubleheader against (0-2) Victoria as the Royals are the only one of the 11 Western Conference teams without at least a point.
Last weekend the Cougars drew a total of 5,224 fans for their two games against the Tri-City Americans; 2,825 for opening night and 2,399 for the following evening.
Although that is an average of just 2,612 that is an improvement over the start to last season.
In 2022, P.G. also opened at home against Tri-City with 2,487 in attendance at CN Centre for the homer and 2,018 for Game 2.
That is a total of 4,505 or an average of 2,252.
While these are nowhere near the numbers the Cougars need to break even it is a spike year over year of 360 fans a game.
They have 32 more home games, including five straight after they play the Royals, to see those numbers climb.
Reflecting on those Tri-City games, it is funny how shots on goal can be misleading.
In the 9-0 P.G. victory, the Cats outshot the Americans 32-28 and in the Cougars’ 6-4 loss to the same team the next night the shots were practically the same, 32-29 for PG.
I doubt we will ever see again the Cougars score on seven on their first 11 shots as they did in the opener.
In terms of the results, one can make a comparison to the start of 2022.
Last year on opening weekend, the Cougars dominated Game 1 against the Americans, building up a 4-0 lead after two periods and cruising to a 5-1 victory.
It was not 9-0 but both home openers against the same team were blowouts only to see the visitors come back for a split.
In Game 2 this year, the Americans never trailed and posted a 6-4 victory.
In Game 2 in 2022, Tri-City won 8-3 although it was just 4-3 after two periods.
Not exactly the same, however, it was just one of many examples of how difficult it can be to sweep back-to-back games against a quality opponent.
Sweeping two this weekend is realistic for P.G. if last season is any indication.
The Cougars earned a whopping 17 out of 18 points against the Royals in 2022-23, going 8-0-0-1 which included a pair of doubleheader sweeps in Victoria with all four of those P.G. victories by at least three goals.
Okay, enough about last season.
Rosters for all 22 WHL teams are far from settled.
The Cougars are better now than last week at this time because two key players have been returned from NHL camps: Riley Heidt (Minnesota Wild) and and Ty Young (Vancouver Canucks).
The 19-year-old Young has a three-year contract in his back pocket that he signed with the Canucks.
Details of that deal are here.
“It’s a dream come true”
— Prince George Cougars (@PGCougars) September 26, 2023
In the near future, the Cougars will get sniper Koehn Ziemmer back from the LA Kings.
P.G. will at some point have to decide on a third 20-year-old once it becomes certain Captain Ethan Samson and goalie Tyler Brennan are not in the picture.
Yes, September is coming to a close meaning we have many months ahead of dissecting the Cougars and their WHL opposition.
It is great to have hockey back in full swing along with the highs and lows that come with it.
Cat Scan podcast:
This is season six of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that predominately features the PG Cougars.
My second guest for the new season is Taylor Dakers, who is the Cougars’ Director of Business Operations and goalie coach.
This week on @PGCougars Cat Scan podcast, Business Boss Taylor Dakers discusses: a 25% spike in season memberships, being in charge of Tickets North box office, concession improvements, community outreach, goalie situation & Ty Young’s workload & his entry-level NHL contract https://t.co/r7xFLiC6iS
— Hartley Miller (@Hartley_Miller) September 27, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Notre Dame had 10 men on the field for the last two plays of its 17-14 loss to Ohio State. Coach Marcus Freeman said changes are being made to prevent this from happening again. Like teaching Fighting Irish players how to count?
The major American TV networks plan to go ahead with the three remaining prime-time telecasts of New York Jets games this season, despite Aaron Rodgers’ absence. The stations opposite of these games, meanwhile, are confident of winning the time slots with their runs of bullfights and test patterns.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
Hear about the minor-league pitcher who split his pants in two places while throwing a 100-mph strike? I think it was a two-seam fastball.
Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. After growing up in Winnipeg, he has lived in Prince George for the last 44 years and is entering his 11th season as the radio colour commentator on the Prince George Cougars home games. Hartley is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).