The Prince George Cougars reach the quarter-mark of their 72-game WHL regular season schedule this weekend.
Although the Cougars have only won five of their first 17 games, goaltender Tavin Grant and the team’s penalty kill have been superb.
The 19-year-old Burnaby native, in his first full season with the Cats, is the obvious Cougars MVP to this point.
In 10 games, his 2.58 goals-against-average (GAA) is third in the WHL, and his 0.922 save percentage (SV%) is also third, alongside ex-Cariboo Cougar, Griffen Outhouse of the Victoria Royals.
At the beginning of the season, it was reasonable to suggest goaltending would be a concern for Prince George.
As a 16-year-old with the Cougars in 2014-15, Grant posted a 4.64 GAA and 0.849 SV% in 18 games.
He only appeared in one game with the Cats in 2015-16, a season he toiled with the Kamloops Storm (KIJHL).
In 2016-17, and 18 years old at that time, he was the number-one goalie with the Prince George Spruce Kings.
His numbers were just adequate, a 3.43 GAA and a 0.893 SV% in 36 regular season games.
To Grant’s credit, he accepted the challenge of being the Cougars starting netminder in a transition year and so far has excelled.
Prince George Cougars
CCM E-Flex 2 setup pic.twitter.com/sQpl6telwe
— Tendy Gear (@Tendy_Gear) October 6, 2017
The six-foot-one former Vancouver Northwest Giant from Burnaby, is a very confident goalie with mental toughness.
He hasn’t shown signs of getting rattled by a bad goal or a frustrating loss with little offensive support.
In his last two starts, Grant was the main reason his team was competitive.
He stopped 47 of 49 shots in a 3-1 loss in Everett where the winning goal was scored with 1:22 left in the third.
His efforts earned him first star.
The previous game in Portland, Grant was third star after blocking 41 of 43 shots where the Winterhawks scored the winner with 39.5 seconds left in regulation time.
The game prior to that for Grant was a 2-1 victory in Vancouver, where he was chosen second star after making 32 saves.
He was also second star in his previous start to the Giants game, blocking 34 of 35 in a 4-1 victory in Red Deer.
In his last four games, Grant has stopped 154 of 160 shots for a whopping 0.960 SV% and an excellent 1.50 GAA.
In addition, he was named one of the three stars in each of those games.
It didn’t take long for Grant to make an impact.
He was first star in his first road game after posting a 47-save shutout in a 3-0 victory at Portland, a performance that earned him WHL Goalie of the Week honors.
The sample size, while still small, speaks volumes as statistically he is among the top five goalies in the WHL.
Tavin Grant of the @PGCougars has been named WHL Goaltender of the Week!
— The WHL (@TheWHL) October 2, 2017
If only the Cougars can start providing their goalies with offence.
Prince George has scored just 46 times in 17 games, the fewest in the WHL.
The Cats do not have a player in the top 50 of scoring.
Meanwhile, the Cougars special teams are great in one area and poor in the other.
The Cats power-play is just operating at 14.5%, tied for 19th, but their penalty kill is number-one in the league at 88%.
The Cougars play 11 of their next 14 at the CN Centre, with nine of those games against teams with records below 500.
With this kind of schedule, there is no reason for PG to not get off to a good start in the second-quarter of its season.
While it may seem like small consolation, it is better that the 5-8-2-2 Cougars have good goaltending and a shortage of goals, opposed to the other way around.
Once the Cougars start scoring regularly, and if Grant can continue to play well in net, then the team should be able to win more frequently and climb the standings (currently ninth in Western Conference).
Remembrance Day is a day to honor and to salute those valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives so we can exercise our freedoms and rights daily.
Let’s take a moment to recognize that November 11th commemorates the many Canadians who have died in the line of duty.
In addition, Remembrance Day is about ideals and what we stand for.
It’s about respecting our past and looking forward, and thanking those who have served.
Here’s one of the many tributes that helps put tomorrow in proper context:
We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument.
– Heather Robertson, A Terrible Beauty, The Art of Canada at War*, Toronto, Lorimer, 1977
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
A gambler won $14 million on World Series game seven. Here’s what’s suspicious — turns out it was some guy named Yu Darvish.
*Conan O’Brien of TBS
After Houston won (the World Series), Astros shortstop Carlos Correa got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend live on television. It was a beautiful moment, although it confused Donald Trump. He was like, “Wait, now athletes are kneeling after the game too? No!”
*Late Late Show host James Corden
The Houston Astros are not sure on a White House trip. Should be careful, Donald Trump could see Jose Altuve & try to deport him as unaccompanied immigrant child.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
Papa John’s CEO is blaming the NFL for poor sales. Apparently Colin Kaepernick is still a little slow at taking pizza orders over the phone.
*Comedy writer Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/
A European Court has ruled the card game “Bridge” is not a sport. So we’re probably not going to get “World Cup of Crib” in the near future.
*Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver
A recent article said that many Red Wings fans are not happy with the name of their new home, Little Caesar’s Arena. You have to admit it is a bit cheesy.
*Marc Ragovin of New York
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Bad news for LiAngelo Ball: he and two other UCLA players were arrested for shoplifting in China. On the bright side, LiAngelo now leads the Ball family in steals.
*Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat.
He also is the 94.3 radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller