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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Playoff time for the Cougars) March 29, 2024...

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Playoff time for the Cougars) March 29, 2024 EDITION 986

The anticipation for a deep successful playoff run has never been greater for the Prince George Cougars.

Optimism should be very high after their many accomplishments in the finest regular season ever for a P.G. Cougars team.

The Cougars, 30 years in Prince George, have been to the Western Conference Final on three occasions (1997, 2000, and 2007).

They have never been Western Conference playoff champions.

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This season they have the talent to get that far and perhaps beyond but it is a long grinding road ahead.

Upsets are commonplace in hockey playoffs.

The Cougars have been in an underdog role for most of their past, but not this year.

Now they are the hunted.

Prince George has a dangerous first-round opponent in the Spokane Chiefs.

Sure there was a 36-point difference in the standings with P.G. at 102 and Spokane at 66 but do not let fool you.

In four regular-season meetings, each team won twice and took five out of eight possible points.

Prince George won 6-3 in Spokane on Dec. 2nd, the Chiefs won 4-3 in Spokane on Jan. 26th and earlier this month, two overtime games in P.G. were split.

The Chiefs won 5-4 in overtime on March 1st before the Cougars scored a dramatic 5-4 victory in overtime on March 2nd.

Prince George has plenty of firepower (316 goals for an average of 4.64 a game).

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Spokane can also put the puck in the net (268 goals for an average of 3.94 a game).

Amazingly enough five of the WHL’s top eight scorers will compete in this series, three for Prince George and two for Spokane.

The Cougars have more depth offensively with eight players averaging over a point per game compared to three players for the Chiefs.

On paper, Prince George has a significant edge defensively, allowing a Conference-low 187 goals against (2.75 a game) which is 96 fewer than Spokane (283 against for an average of 4.16 a game).

The Chiefs allowed more goals than any of the 16 WHL playoff teams.

All the stats and facts look fancy for Prince George but playoffs can be a different beast.

For what it is worth, the Cougars had more difficulty with the Chiefs in the regular season than with the three teams that finished directly above Spokane in the standings; (5th place Kelowna, 6th place Vancouver and 7th place Victoria).

In other words, one could argue that this is not the easiest opponent Prince George could have been matched up with in round one.

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Having stated that the Cougars have more talent, better depth and superior goaltending than the Chiefs.

That is backed up by what the teams accomplished over 68 games.

It will be a 2-3-2 format which means Prince George only has to make one trip south of the border.

The 2-3-2 worked out for the Cougars last season in the first round when Prince George beat the Tri-City Americans four games to two.

When you are a good team, it should not matter where the game is played.

The Cougars, on a 19-game point streak and nine-game winning streak, have been an excellent team with nearly an identical record home and away; 25-7-1-1 at CN Centre and 24-8-0-2 on the road.

The numbers for the Chiefs show they were 17-16-1 on home ice and 13-16-4-1 away.

Over the last two years, the Cougars have 14 games of playoff experience (four in 2022 and 10 in 2023).

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The Chiefs missed the playoffs last season and were swept in four straight in 2022.

Oddsmakers in Vegas would make Prince George a heavy favourite to win the series and the Cougars should prevail, however, in the back of our mind, we know it sits 0-0 and intangibles often come into play.

The intrigue and suspense of the playoffs.

It is on a different level with nothing else like it.

That is why nearly all of the tickets have gobbled up for the first two games at CN Centre.

Will this be the longest run ever for the P.G. Cougars?

The answer will unfold in the weeks to come.

Game Date Away Home Time
1 Friday, March 29 Spokane Prince George 7:00 p.m. PST
2 Saturday, March 30 Spokane Prince George 6:00 p.m. PST
3 Tuesday, April 2 Prince George Spokane 7:05 p.m. PST
4 Wednesday, April 3 Prince George Spokane 6:35 p.m. PST
5* Friday, April 5 Prince George Spokane 7:05 p.m. PST
6* Monday, April 8 Spokane Prince George 7:00 p.m. PST
7* Wednesday, April 10 Spokane Prince George 7:00 p.m. PST

*- If necessary

 

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 Mark Lamb, the Cougars head coach and G.M.

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FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

A recent survey revealed that Americans under 30 are among the most unhappy people in the world. Leading the pack of the despondent: The Junior San Jose Sharks.

*Contributor Marc Ragovin of New York

Ohtani is looking like it’s Japanese for Pete Rose.

*Comedy writer Paul Lander of California

MLB commissioner on baseball’s Ohtani investigation “I hope [it’s] short, but I just don’t know.” Translation, as soon as we can figure out a way to accept enough of Shohei’s most recent story to keep him playing.

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

The Raptors’ Jontay Porter is under investigation for gambling. Instead of asking for a lawyer, he asked for an interpreter.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Team Canada beat Team Switzerland to win the women’s curling championship. Just for the day, they should change the National Anthem to “O Canada, our Homan native land.”

*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 the 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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