A celebration huddle led by Cole Moberg (#2) & Captain Josh Curtis (#10) | Prince George Cougars & James Doyle Photography

The standings back-up the impression that the Prince George Cougars are improving.

The Cougars are at the 20-game mark of the 2018-19 WHL regular season and have 21 points to show for their efforts (9-8-1-2).

After 20 games in the 17-18 season, the Cougars had just 18 points (7-9-2-2).

Keep in mind, in mid-November of last year, the Cats had Dennis Cholowski (now with the Detroit Red Wings), Kody McDonald, and Josh Anderson in their lineup.

All three older players were dealt in January when the Cougars decided to write the season off as they continued to build for the future.

Technically, Prince George is in second place in the B.C. Division, a point ahead of Victoria but it has to be noted the (10-6) Royals have four games in hand.

One reason for the Cougars better performance is in net.

Starter Taylor Gauthier has been a bit inconsistent, but in 15 games his 2.84 goals-against-average (GAA) and .910 save-percentage (SV%) are considerably better numbers than his rookie season (3.96 GAA and .885 SV%).

The 17-year-old Gauthier posted his first WHL shutout with 37 saves in a 2-0 triumph over Seattle November 3rd.

He has actually played better overall on the road like many of his teammates.

Back-up Isaiah DiLaura has been superb.

In six games, he sports a 2.38 GAA and a .926 SV% with one shutout, (26 saves in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Giants November 11th).

On the blueline, Cole Moberg has already surpassed his offensive totals from the previous season.

Moberg is second in team scoring with 14 points (6G, 8A) in 20 games.

He had 11 points (two goals) in 64 games in 2017-18.

Joel Lakusta, Ryan Schoettler, Rhett Rhinehart, and Austin Crossley are other regular defencemen that have helped the Cougars allow an average of just 2.85 goals-against-per-game, third best in the Western Conference.

Without a big line to rely on, the Cougars score by committee.

They are averaging just 2.4 goals-a-game, second fewest in the entire WHL, only ahead of Swift Current.

Josh Maser, who tallied the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory over Kelowna on Wednesday, has elevated his play since serving a four-game suspension with 11 points in his last 10 games.

Vladislav Mikhalchuk leads the team in scoring with 15 points and a plus-two rating (+2).

Mikalchuk tied the game for the Cats in that Rockets victory when he tallied with 16.3 seconds left in the third.

It was the first-time this season the Cougars won after pulling their goalie for an extra attacker in the final minute.

A mystery none of the coaches or players have an answer for is the Cats play in the middle period.

They have been outscored 19-8 in the second, although in their last game, they outscored the Rockets 2-0 in the second.

Prince George has started games well, outscoring its opponent 22-11 in the first.

The Cougars have been outscored 24-15 in the third and 57-48 overall, including overtime and shootouts.

While the team has struggled on the power play, 21st in the league at 14.9% and only in front of Swift Current, the Cougars have scored nine times with the man advantage in their last eight games.

The penalty kill has been consistent sitting fourth in the league at 82.4% efficiency.

The Cats have won their last three at the CN Centre, but are just 5-5-0-1 at home with an average attendance of 2,521.

They are slightly better on the road with a 4-3-1-1 mark.

It should be noted that 25% of the Cougars games this season have been against (8-12-1) Kelowna, winning three of the five meetings, with one of the losses coming in overtime.

In other words, the remaining 48 games on the schedule will get more difficult, including a stretch of 11 straight road games starting December 7th in Portland and ending January 9th in Spokane.

The Cougars overall report card mark to mid-November: C+

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This is Week Eight of ‘Hartley’s Cat Scan.’

The podcast, introduced in September, predominately features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest this week is the VP of Hockey for the WHL, Richard Doerksen.

He discusses the PG Cougars and league schedule plus many other league topics.

You can also find this podcast on iTunes, Google, Stitcher, and Spotify.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Irish golf star Rory McIlroy has sold his waterfront mansion near Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for $11.5 million — $250,000 less than he paid for the property six years ago. In other words: “In the hole!”

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

 

A 69-year old Dutch man wants to legally change his age back to 49 because that’s his reported “biological” age. He is following the lead of the last person who did that, Bartolo Colon.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

 

In a game in China, Jimmer Ferdette reportedly scored 75 points. There’s a Chinese basketball version of ‘Madden ’18?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

 

The NFL has moved the Chiefs-Rams Monday Night game from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Wonder why the league didn’t consider Oakland? Fans there would love to watch professional football.

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

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Three reasons a Bangkok ad agency allows dogs at work:
3. Employees want more arf-time work;
2. Sales went through the woof;
1. Damned if I don’t, damned if Fido.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

 

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his weekly podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.