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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Who will the Cougars play?) March 15, 2024...

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Who will the Cougars play?) March 15, 2024 EDITION 984

With 10 days left in the WHL regular season, we know the Prince George Cougars will finish first or second in the Western Conference.

We know the Cougars will start the playoffs in two weeks (March 29th) at CN Centre.

We know the Cougars will have a home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven first round against either the 7th or 8th-place finisher in the Conference.

What we do not know is who their opponent will be.

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We may not get that answer until March 24th, which is the final day of the regular season.

Based on the current standings the candidates to play Prince George in round one are 8th place Spokane (60 points), 7th place Vancouver (64 points), 6th place Victoria (65 points), 5th place Kelowna (67 points) and 4th place Wenatchee (68 points).

Let’s eliminate the Wild as Wenatchee would have to have a huge fall dropping from 4th to at least 7th which is highly unlikely.

It probably will not be Kelowna although the Rockets have just four games left, two against Everett and two against Vancouver so there is a chance they could fall to 7th.

The Rockets, who lost to the Cougars 6-5 in overtime Wednesday, are riding a 9-game point streak (7-0-1-1).

It could be slumping Victoria (0-3-1 in its last four and just three wins in its last 10).

The Royals have just four games remaining, a difficult schedule although all four are at home against Prince George twice and Wenatchee twice.

Victoria could easily slip one spot down to 7th.

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It could be Vancouver, a team the Cougars handled last weekend, by scores of 5-3 and 6-3.

The Giants though have a chance to move up with five games left, home and home with last place Kamloops, home to Prince George on Sunday and then the home and home with Kelowna.

It could be Spokane who have five games remaining, two at home and three on the road.

The Chiefs appear to be destined for 8th; they could move to 7th but not likely any higher.

Should the (44-15-1-3) Cougars finish on top of the Conference there is a strong possibility the Chiefs will be their opponent.

Prince George is one point ahead of Portland with the Cougars having five games to go and the (44-15-2-1) Winterhawks having six games left.

Portland has three games in three days this weekend and three in three next weekend.

The Cougars are riding a 14-game point streak which ties the club record set in 1997-98.

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If P.G. ends up second in the Conference, Vancouver or Victoria would be the best bets for a first-round matchup.

One might suggest it should not matter who Prince George meets in round one, the Cougars will be heavy favourites to come out on top.

That is true and the standings show they are 32 points ahead of the Chiefs but as hockey fans are well aware in playoffs upsets are a distinct possibility regardless of where a team ended up.

For the record, the Cougars in the 2023-24 regular season went 2-1-1 against the Chiefs, are 5-2 against the Giants with a game to go and are 5-1 against the Royals with a couple to play this weekend on the Island.

Prince George has scored 50 goals in its last 9 games while allowing 28.

They appear to be peaking at the right time although the goals-against has been climbing recently.

While the top spot in the West is the priority, there are P.G. players to watch.

Zac Funk (110) is only two points behind the Quinn Hancock team record of 112, set in 1997-98 while Riley Heidt (109) is just three back of the Hancock mark.

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Funk and Heidt still can overtake Jagger Firkus of Moose Jaw (111) for the WHL scoring title.

Terik Parascak (94 points), the WHL Rookie of the Week for the 5th time this season, is battling Gavin McKenna of Medicine Hat (90) for the top rookie scorer.

Josh Ravensbergen (six) needs one more shutout to set the league record for most shutouts by a rookie in one season.

The other seven rookies who had half-a-dozen goose eggs in one season according to the WHL are:

  • Jamie Tucker (VAN) – 2008-09
  • Matt Keetley (MH) – 2004-05
  • Tyler Plante (BDN) – 2004-05
  • Dustin Slade (KAM/REG) – 2003-04
  • Kelly Guard (KEL) – 2002-03
  • Donavan Nunweiler (MJ) – 1996-97
  • Ray Martyniuk (Flin-Flon) 1968-69

By the way, with two more wins the 2023-24 P.G. Cougars will set a team record for most victories in a season, breaking the mark of 45 set in 2016-17.

This tells us there is still plenty to shoot and play for in the last five games.

Having something on the line helps in bringing the best out in a team, something the Cougars have shown in their first 63 games.


Cat Scan podcast:

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

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This week’s guest is Ty Edmonds, who holds the Cougars record for wins by a goalie with 100.



Mike Tyson and Jake Paul will face off in a boxing match in July. Given that Tyson is 57, Paul better watch out that Tyson doesn’t gum his ear.

*Contributor Marc Ragovin of New York

QB Kirk Cousins agrees to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Think this is good news, for the New Orleans Saints.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California

If the Oscar telecast is the Super Bowl of Hollywood, then Ryan Gosling performing ‘I’m Just Ken’ was Patrick Mahomes.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The top five best-picture-Oscar curling movies:
5. The Silence of the Jams;
4. Lord of the Rings: In-turn of the King;
3. Casa Blank End;
2. Forrest Bump;
1. A Rockalypse Now.

*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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