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HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Is this the best PG Cougars team ever?) March 1, 2024 EDITION 982

My column last week focused on the Prince George Cougars and many of the individual team records set during this 2023-24 WHL season.

This week, let’s examine where this PG Cougars team ranks in their 30-year history.

One may suggest it is the best, but that is just the regular season.

Playoffs will determine if this current edition will top the list.

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The Cougars team standings since moving from Victoria to Prince George can be found here.

From the 1994-95 season until 2017-18, the team played 72 games.

Since then it has been 68, except for the two seasons altered by COVID-19.

The Cougars are sitting with a record of 40-15-0-3 in the WHL Western Conference for 83 points and a winning percentage of .716.

The most points they have ever had is 96 in 2016-17; their best winning percentage was .667 in that same season.

This year’s team is well on its way to having the best winning percentage ever and has a realistic chance of the most points ever despite playing four fewer games.

They need just 14 points in their final 10 games which on paper seems achievable with three games remaining against Vancouver, two each against Spokane, Victoria and Kamloops and one left against Kelowna.

This is all fine and dandy but all players, coaches and fans know the most important time of the year is the Spring and the playoffs.

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The Cougars have reached the Western Conference Final on three occasions; in 1996-97, 1999-2000 and 2006-07.

They have never made it to the WHL Championship Series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

If the 2023-24 Cougars win three rounds or more in the playoffs, unquestionably this will be the best Cougars team of all time.

If the 2023-24 Cougars win two rounds in the playoffs and then lose in the Western Conference Final, then there can be debate about where this season’s team ranks, with still a strong case for number one.

Should they go out in the second round like last year, then it can not be considered the best-ever Cougars team but that should not take away from the accomplishments over 68 games including a B.C. Division title for just the second time (2016-17 the other).

Should they go out in the first round, which would seem unlikely, then the nightmarish flashbacks 16-17 will be front and center with sighs of not again.

One thing to keep in mind is that this season’s team has played in a weak B.C. Division which wasn’t necessarily the case for previous Cougars teams.

On the other hand, regardless of the opposition, the 23-24 Cougars are 27-2 when scoring first, are 28-0 when leading after two periods, and have both their power-play and penalty-killing units ranked in the league’s top five all season. They have been consistent, never having lost more than a paltry two games in a row.

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In addition, they are tied for first in the WHL in goal-differential at + 99, alongside the Portland Winterhawks, the team they are battling with for the top spot in the Conference.

No other P.G. WHL team has ever duplicated those impressive stats as a combination.

Expectations are high and they should be considering the talent, arguably the most talent they have ever had.

The countdown to playoffs is just four weeks away.


Cat Scan podcast:

This is season six of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that predominately features the PG Cougars.

The guest this week is Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb.



A never-opened box containing thousands of late 1970s hockey cards — including possibly several prized Wayne Gretzky rookie cards—recently sold for $3.7 million. I guess we can call this box “The Crate One.”

*Contributor Marc Ragovin of New York

MLB opening day is just under four weeks away. And still, so many big-name free agents are unsigned. Maybe teams will start selling jerseys with “player to be named later”?

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*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California

MLB players are complaining about the newly designed uniforms, saying they are see-through. So who designed them, Madonna?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

L.A. police are looking for crooks who stole $4.5 million worth of eye-shadow products. If the culprits are apprehended, watch for the best-looking mug shots ever.

*Comedy writer RJ Currie of Winnipeg

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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