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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Cougars-Winterhawks stretch run) Feb. 16, 2024 EDITION 980

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Cougars-Winterhawks stretch run) Feb. 16, 2024 EDITION 980

The Prince George Cougars will likely officially clinch a WHL playoff spot this long weekend.

It is a given the Cougars will finish first in the B.C. Division for only the second time and first since 2016-17.

That should become official in early to mid-March.

The question that may not be answered until the final weekend of the regular season (March 22nd-23rd) is will Prince George finish first in the Western Conference.

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With three top teams vying for that top spot, being the best in the West would appear to be a big advantage.

Should the Cougars end up #1 that would mean they avoid playing the Portland Winterhawks or the Everett Silvertips until the 3rd round of the playoffs, the Western Conference Final.

Upsets usually happen in playoffs and there are no guarantees any team will automatically win a pair of playoff series, but on paper the U.S. Division and B.C. Division winners would be considerable favourites to make it that far.

The Winterhawks are in the driver’s seat for the Western Conference title but based on schedule the Cougars still have a good chance.

The Silvertips, who lost in Portland 10-2 on Tuesday, appear to be the Longshot of the three considering that they have played a few more games than the other two.

Portland (36-12-2-1) is first with 75 points and 17 games remaining, Everett (35-18-1-2) has 73 points but only 12 games to go while Prince George (35-15-0-2) is three back of the Winterhawks with 16 left.

Here is a look at the remaining schedules for the three teams:

Prince George: 8 home and 8 away 

The Cougars have five games against Kamloops (16-30-3-2, 11th place), three games against Vancouver (25-24-3-0, 6th), and two games each against Seattle (18-31-2-0, 10th), Kelowna (24-26-3-0, 7th), Spokane (21-24-4-1, 8th) and Victoria (25-21-4-4, 5th).

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Portland: 7 home and 10 away

The Winterhawks have three games each against Seattle and Victoria, two games each against Tri-City (20-29-2-1, 9th), Wenatchee (28-21-4-0, 4th) and Vancouver, and one game each against Everett, Moose Jaw (33-16-0-2, 3rd (east), Regina (20-27-4-2, 10th (east), Kamloops and Spokane.

Everett: 8 home and 4 away

The Silvertips have two games each against Wenatchee, Seattle, Victoria and Kelowna and one game each against Portland, Moose Jaw, Regina, and Tri-City.

Based on the strength of opponents, Prince George has the best schedule remaining especially since five of its last 16 are against Kamloops, as the Blazers sit last in the Western Conference.

Portland only gets the benefit of playing Kamloops one more time.

Over the next five days, the Cougars have an excellent chance of making up ground on the Winterhawks.

Prince George has a home and home against the Blazers followed by a home doubleheader against the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are at the bottom of the U.S. Division.

The Winterhawks have a difficult weekend with a home and home against the Vancouver Giants (the Giants are on a 9-game point streak 8-0-1) and then play in Everett Sunday at 4:00.

The Silvertips are at Wenatchee to play the Wild and host Seattle before Sunday’s key game against Portland.

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All three teams are having a successful season and have separated themselves from the rest of the field as they are at least a dozen points ahead of 4th place Wenatchee.

Being first in the West is an accomplishment with home-ice advantage.

Looking at the schedule can be a bit of fun; all three of these teams should win most of their remaining games but upsets can and will happen.

That makes this race intriguing; as the team who holds up the most against weaker teams will be the winner.

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 P.G. associate coach Jim Playfair.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Super Bowl LIX is on Sunday, February 9, 2025, in New Orleans. What time next week does the pre-game show start?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

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After his sideline meltdown with Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, Taylor Swift’s breakup song with Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce will be called ‘Wild Thing.’

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Chicken is the most popular food consumed by fans during the Super Bowl. And out of respect for it being football, most of that chicken is in wing formation.

*Comedy writer RJ Currie of Winnipeg www.Sportsdeke.com

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 11th year 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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