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HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Highs and lows of scoreboard watching) March 8, 2024 EDITION 983

It is not the playoffs but scoreboard watching in March can help set the tone for the post-season.

The out-of-town scoreboard can be a very good friend or a very bitter foe.

Sometimes you get much-needed help and sometimes you do not.

The (42-15-2-1) Portland Winterhawks and the (41-15-1-3) Prince George Cougars
are in a battle for the top spot in the WHL Western Conference.

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Portland has a one-point lead with eight games left for both teams.

The team that finishes first in the Conference will have a home-ice advantage in the first three rounds of the playoffs (if they make it that far).

The first-place team would have another advantage on paper: their first and second-round opponent would be a lower seed.

Last Saturday (March 2) experienced all the highs and lows of watching the results from elsewhere.

The Cougars were hoping for a Portland loss to Victoria and it appeared they were going to get help.

The Winterhawks trailed 3-1 early in 3rd and 4-3 with six minutes to go but Portland got a shorthanded tally with 5:51 remaining and the winner at 27 seconds of overtime to pull off the 5-4 victory.

If you thought that was dramatic it was pale in comparison to what took place at CN Centre.

The Winterhawks were hoping for a Prince George loss to Spokane and late in the game it looked like they were going to get their wish.

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Spokane scored with 2:06 remaining in the 3rd to grab what appeared to be a secure 4-2 lead.

Some of the nearly 4,000 fans started to head to the exits at that point but these Cougars just do not know how to bow down.

In a rarity, Prince George scored twice with the goalie (in this case Ty Young) pulled for an extra attacker.

Viliam Kmec got a goal at 18:57 and that was followed by Zac Funk getting one on the power play 33 seconds later at 19:30, his league-high 59th of the season to add to the drama and tie the game at 4.

Riley Heidt put an exclamation mark on the comeback with his goal at 2:03 of overtime and just like that Prince George secured a 5-4 victory to extend its points streak to 11.

This is a prime example of never assuming a thing until the final buzzer.

On Wednesday, Prince George did not get help as the Winterhawks went on the road and beat the Blazers 6-4.

Kamloops trailed 4-0 but made it interesting cutting the deficit to 4-3 early in the 3rd.

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Eventually, an empty net goal sealed the decision.

I find scoreboard-watching the most fun when the two teams involved are playing simultaneously.

Of the eight P.G. games remaining, six of them will be on the same day that Portland plays.

This weekend the Cougars host Vancouver tonight (Friday) and Saturday while the Winterhawks are home to Wenatchee on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Portland visits Spokane and on Wednesday the Cougars visit Kelowna.

The final two weekends will determine who is best in the West, at least from the regular-season perspective.

On March 15th, 16th and 17th, both the Cougars and Winterhawks will play three games in as many days (with P.G. at Victoria twice and then at Vancouver in Langley on the 17th while Portland is home to Tri-City, followed by road games at Wenatchee and at Seattle).

On the March 22nd weekend to close out, the Cougars have a home and home with the Blazers; Friday in Kamloops and Saturday in P.G., while Portland has a 3 in 3 for the second straight weekend.

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The Winterhawks visit Tri-City on the 22nd before closing with a home and home against the Thunderbirds; in Portland on the 23rd and in Kent, Washington on the 24th).

The Cougars’ schedule is here.

The Winterhawks schedule is here.

Could it be first place will be decided on the last day of the regular season with that Portland at Seattle game?

Yes, that is a distinct possibility.

If that should be the case, the out-of-town scoreboard will determine whether P.G. is a 1st seed or a 2nd seed.

The Cougars hope it does not come down to that but if it does, they will cheer on Seattle from a distance with the anticipation that the Thunderbirds can be, at least for one night, a best friend.


Cat Scan podcast:

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

This week’s guest is former Cougars sniper Quinn Hancock, who holds the team record for most points in a season with 112.



While memory and age are big in the political headlines these days, Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards had to come off the bench Monday because he missed the game’s opening tipoff. He “lost track of time.” Edwards is 22.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California

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It appears Justin Fields is headed out of Chicago, possibly to Atlanta. An unnamed Bears source said that Justin did OK at times but that the team needs a QB with a ceiling that can’t be reached by Danny DeVito.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

March 2nd marked 62 years since Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors set the NBA scoring record (100 points) for one night’s work. Nine months later, Philly had a mini baby boom.

*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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