The Prince George Cougars’ fast 6-1 start has cooled a bit, however, going 7-3-0-0 in their first 10 games is a step in the right direction.
Prince George has a very good chance of going wire-to-wire in first place in its division.
The Cougars last accomplished that in the 2016-17 season where regular season success was not followed by any playoff success.
If you are curious, P.G. won its first eight games in 16-17 before a pair of losses to the Everett Silvertips left them 8-2 after 10 games.
The Cougars were 14-4-2 at the 20-game mark seven years ago.
The next 10 games for the 2023-24 Cougars are as follows: home this weekend to Kamloops (Saturday) and Medicine Hat (Sunday) followed by a 5-game road trip to the East Division starting in Moose Jaw on October 28th and continuing in Regina (29th), Brandon (November 1st), Saskatoon (3rd) and Prince Albert (4th).
Prince George will then follow with three at home; Red Deer (10th), and Vancouver (both the 14th and 15th) to get to the 20-game mark.
There are several areas of noticeable improvement for the Cougars after 10 games and it starts with special teams.
Consider this though, P.G. has allowed eight power-play goals against in 42 opportunities but they have also scored a league-high seven shorthanded goals.
In 2022-23, P.G. had just eight shorthanded goals over 68 games.
Last season, the Cougars finished second on the PP at 27.7% but a dismal 18th on the PK at 74%.
Part of the PK improvement credit has to go to the well-respected new Associate Coach Jim Playfair.
When Playfair speaks the players are listening and translating that into game action.
It is a bit odd at this point that the Cougars have played 10 games which is twice as many as the Thunderbirds.
Prince George is averaging 5.5 goals per game, a pace they will not be able to keep up, but at the moment is second in the league behind the Portland Winterhawks, who are averaging just over six per game.
They have the top three scorers in the league and six of the top 22.
The Cougars have eight players averaging over a point per game.
They are allowing exactly 3 goals against per game, which is tied for 6th best out of 22 teams.
Starting goalie Ty Young was excellent in a 2-1 victory over Swift Current (36 saves first star performance on Wednesday, Oct 11th) however he has been only so-so in his other six games.
His totals after seven games show a 2.76 goals-against-average and a 0.888 save percentage which compares to a 3.89 GAA and a 0.889 save percentage in 34 games played in 2022-23.
The Cougars’ early grade sits at a B + with 58 games to go before the crucial part of the season comes into effect.
Cat Scan podcast:
This is season six of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that predominately features the PG Cougars.
This week my guest is Mark Lamb, Head Coach and General Manager.
This week on @PGCougars Cat Scan podcast, coach/GM Mark Lamb discusses the team’s 7-3 start, special team’s strong play, finding another 20-year old; 2009 draft-eligible prospects, value of draft picks & team chemistry, players possibly going to World Jr, development of players. https://t.co/KOH9qoE9rL
— Hartley Miller (@Hartley_Miller) October 17, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
I’m more excited than a (New York) Jets fan during the first three plays of the season.
*NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon, on returning to work after a five-month writers’ strike
Aaron Rodgers continues to take all kinds of chances and risks in his rehab, doing an accelerated program in his Achilles repair, throwing passes, and being on the sidelines during a New York Jets game. Yet he still won’t get vaccinated.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
Of the four teams left in MLB playoffs, none won more than 90 games (out of 162) in the regular season. Not that baseball works like March Madness but would have been a great year for those in office pools who pick winning teams by colors or mascot.
A Chinese firm will spend $145 million recreating the Titanic with simulations of how it sank. That’s cheaper than the $2.12 billion value of another routine disaster to regularly hit the ice — the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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).