Half-a-dozen games is a small sample size, but here are some early takeaways to the Prince George Cougars start.
This team has firepower: They have played more games than any other team in the Western Conference, but no WHL team has on average put up the amount of goals Prince George has.
Granted the competition may not have been elite, but scoring 40 goals in six games (an average of 6.67 per game) is impressive in any league, in any situation.
This will not keep up but the Cougars have the top five players and six of the top seven
in the top 10 of scoring, including 17-year-old Terik Parascak, who is an early top candidate for the Western Conference Rookie of the Year award.
Parascak leads the league in goals (10), shorthanded goals (two) and points (15).
His week included a six-point game, and he currently leads the WHL in goals and points.
Terik Parascak of the @PGCougars is the WHL Rookie of the Week!
— The WHL (@TheWHL) October 2, 2023
— My Prince George Now (@mypgnow) October 5, 2023
Much of the Cougars’ scoring came with LA Kings draft pick Koehn Ziemmer not joining the team until the 5th game.
Eight players on the roster are averaging a point or better a game with five of them at two points or better a game.
In case you are curious, the roster only has two 20-year-olds, so the Cougars have plenty of time to add a third which should further enhance the talent.
The power play is ranked first out of 22 league teams, operating at 40.6 %.
Here is one for you: the Cougars have already tallied six shorthanded goals in six games, just two fewer than the eight they put up in 68 games all of last season.
The penalty kill, which has been a sore spot for the Cougars over the last several seasons, is clicking at 86.4 % efficiency, having given up three while shorthanded but have scored those six to more than make up for it.
Scored 40 goals (6.67 gpg)
Allowed 14 goals (2.33 gpg)
Outshot opponents 214 – 133 (average 36.7 – 22.1)
5 players averaging 2+ points per game, 8 averaging 1+ ppg.
86.4% PK – 6 shorthanded goals vs 3 powerplay goals against.
— Will Peters (@WillPeters_1) October 5, 2023
The offense is entertaining and it is a lot of fun to score goals, but it will still come down to goals against which will determine how elite this team is.
They are surrendering just 2.33 a game (14 allowed in six) which is a good start.
In the 2016-17 season when the Cougars posted their only first-place finish in the BC Division, P.G. went wire-to-wire in top spot.
This season, 2023-24, they have a blemish with a 5-1 record, but they have a good chance to go wire-to-wire in first place.
The B.C. division is arguably the weakest of the four in the league so who will overtake them?
We know it will not be (0-4) Victoria, arguably the worst team in the WHL.
Kelowna is not in the P.G. class after watching the (1-2-1) Rockets twice this week at CN Centre (3-2 and 8-1 Prince George wins).
(1-1-1) Kamloops is in transition after going “all-in” during its Memorial Cup 202-24 season and (2-1) Vancouver was 17 points behind P.G. last season. I doubt the Giants have made enough upgrades to make up that deficit, especially considering the Cougars’ start.
What a night! Four wins in a row going into the weekend against Wenatchee!
— Prince George Cougars (@PGCougars) October 5, 2023
Bigger tests are ahead for the Cats, like this weekend with the (1-3-1) Wenatchee Wild, formerly Winnipeg Ice, at CN Centre for a doubleheader.
(Winnipeg was the top team in the Eastern Conference in 2022-23)
The numbers look good for Prince George but no titles get handed out in early October.
In my mind, all the first six games have told us is, yes, the Cougars have a good team just like we thought heading into the season.
Just how good, that remains to be seen.
It is a ride, a journey, and the downs will come along with the ups.
This is year 30 of the Cougars being in Prince George.
Many of the past years have been lean.
Last season, strides were taken with a playoff-round victory for the first time in 16 years.
This season is about the next step, we are still months away from knowing if the Cougars will take it.
For now, the outlook is promising.
Cat Scan podcast:
This is season six of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that predominately features the PG Cougars.
My third guest for the new season is Bob Simmonds, Director of Scouting.
This week on @PGCougars Cat Scan #podcast, @RiderFanBob the team’s Director of Scouting: Part 1:
Topics include: vast majority of roster either drafted or listed, rookies on the team making an impact, a 15-year-old who has made a huge impression & much more on the team’s future. https://t.co/gB9Pqe0vjr
— Hartley Miller (@Hartley_Miller) October 4, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Both NY teams are out of the MLB playoffs, and both NY teams are 1-3 in the NFL. Do sports fans in New York City realize the best team they may get to root for all year are the WNBA Liberty?
When asked about Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce dating Taylor Swift, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick replied that ‘this could be Travis’ biggest catch’. Yes, and it could also be his biggest fumble.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
True story. For roughly 20 minutes in a row during the Thursday Night Football telecast (Sept 28th), not one person mentioned Taylor Swift. Okay, maybe it was 10 minutes.
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 in 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).