Prince George Cougars (44-21-3-2)
at Kamloops Blazers (37-27-5-1)
Friday, March 17 – 7 p.m. (Pacific) – Sandman Centre
Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD 304/604; Shaw Direct Satellite TV
Games don’t get much bigger than this.
The Prince George Cougars and Kamloops Blazers wrap up their respective regular season schedules with a home-and-home series this weekend, beginning Friday night in Kamloops on WHL on Shaw.
While the Blazers are locked into the third seed in the B.C. Division, the Cougars are fighting tooth and nail to fend off the surging Kelowna Rockets in the race for the division crown. With only two points separating the divisional rivals and two games left on their respective schedules, every point counts this weekend.
Friday marks the seventh of eight regular season meetings between the Cougars and Blazers. To date, Prince George is winners of four, while one of the Blazers’ two victories came via overtime. The season series closes Saturday evening back at the CN Centre in Prince George.
After dropping a 6-1 decision to the Cougars back on March 4, the Blazers have bounced back with three consecutive victories, including a pair over the Victoria Royals. On the other bench, the Cougars have won back-to-back outings – one over Tri-City and the other over Spokane – after falling to the Portland Winterhawks on March 8.
Deven Sideroff continues to lead the Blazers offenses, having tallied 78 points (36G-42A) through 66 games, but Latvian import Rudolfs Balcers is hot on his heels with 76 points (40G-36A) in 64 games.
The Cougars are led by Jansen Harkins, who has collected 72 points (21G-51A) in 62 games this season.
Between the pipes, the Blazers boast Connor Ingram, who sits among the league leaders in a variety of major goaltending categories, including goals-against average (second, 2.43), save percentage (T-1st, .927) and shutouts (T-2nd, five). Through 44 appearances, the plucky product of Imperial, Sask., is 26-13-2-2.
In the Cougars crease, veteran Ty Edmonds carries the cowbell, having appeared in 51 contests and accruing a record of 30-16-2-2 along the way, with a 2.55 GAA, .914 SV% and one shutout. His GAA is good enough for third in the WHL.
Following Friday’s festivities in the Interior, the two clubs head north up the highway for their regular season finale Saturday night.
— Kamloops Blazers (@blazerhockey) March 16, 2017
Head coach: Don Hay
Leading scorers: RW Deven Sideroff (36-42—78); RW Rudolfs Balcers (40-36—76); C Lane Bauer (36-34—70)
Leading goaltender: Connor Ingram (44 GP, 26-13-2-2, 2.43 GAA, .927 SV%, 5 SO)
Power play: T-18th – 17.4 per cent
Penalty kill: Second – 83.9 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: D Tylor Ludwar (upper body, day to day)
Exciting! Our 1st round playoff opponent is yet to been determined.
We’ll face one of 4 teams:
— PG Cougars (@PGCougars) March 15, 2017
Prince George Cougars
Head coach: Richard Matvichuk
Leading scorers: C Jansen Harkins (21-52—72); LW Nikita Popugaev (29-38—67); LW Radovan Bondra (32-31—63)
Leading goaltender: Ty Edmonds (51 GP, 30-16-2-2, 2.55 GAA, .914 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: 16th – 18.0 per cent
Penalty kill: Third – 83.1 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Brad Morrison (lower body, week to week)
Nov. 5 – Kamloops (2) at Prince George (4)
Nov. 12 – Prince George (7) at Kamloops (0)
Jan. 21 – Prince George (4) at Kamloops (5) – OT
Feb. 19 – Prince George (0) at Kamloops (3)
March 3 – Kamloops (4) at Prince George (8)
March 4 – Kamloops (1) at Prince George (6)
March 17 – Prince George at Kamloops
March 18 – Kamloops at Prince George