Prince George Cougars (28-11-2-0) at
Red Deer Rebels (18-17-4-2)
Tuesday, Jan. 10 – 7 p.m. (Mountain) / 6 p.m. (Pacific)
Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD 304; Shaw Direct Satellite HD Classic 120 or HD Advanced 620
With the WHL Trade Deadline in the rearview mirror, the Red Deer Rebels play host to the Prince George Cougars on the WHL on Shaw Tuesday night.
The Cougars roll into Red Deer bolstered by the addition of Russian import Nikita Popugaev, who has already had an impact. Slovakian Radovan Bondra, acquired on deadline day from Vancouver, and veteran Tanner Wishnowski, acquired on deadline day from Spokane, are not expected to take to the ice against the Rebels.
For the Rebels, they forge on without the services of defenceman Josh Mahura and forward Jeff de Wit, after both were dealt to the Regina Pats in a deadline day blockbuster.
Having gone 7-3-0-0 over their previous 10 outings, the Cougars will look to continue rolling as they pursue a B.C. Division title. With a five-point edge on the Kamloops Blazers, ever last point counts down the stretch run in the second half of the WHL season.
Meanwhile, the host Rebels hold down third place in the Central Division, only two points ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings to the north.
Tuesday marks the first of three meetings this season between the Cougars and Rebels.
The Prince George pack is led by the newest member, Popugaev, who has collected 53 points (23G-30A) in 42 games, including two points in his lone game as a Cougar. Highlighted by NHL Central Scouting as a Player to Watch ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Moscow product brings his 6-foot-5, 202-pound frame to a Cougars club that means business.
Prior to the addition of Popugaev, Winnipeg Jets’ prospect Jansen Harkins was the team’s top scorer with 40 points (10G-30A) through 35 games.
The Rebels counter with Czech centre Michael Spacek, another Jets’ prospect, who has notched 42 points (16G-26A) in 31 games.
Between the pipes, 20-year-old Ty Edmonds is expected to get the nod for Prince George. He carries a record of 22-7-1-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and one shutout.
At the other end Lasse Petersen is set to go in the blue paint for the Rebels. Fresh off an appearance with Denmark at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, Petersen is 9-6-3-0 with a 3.21 GAA and .894 SV%.
Following Tuesday’s date in Red Deer, the Cougars and Rebels will meet on two further occasions before the season comes to a close. Prince George returns to Red Deer on Jan. 27 before the Rebels visit the Cougars and the CN Centre on Feb. 21.
Red Deer Rebels
Head coach: Brent Sutter
Scoring leaders: C Michael Spacek (16-26-42); LW Brandon Hagel (18-21-39); D Colton Bobyk (4-30-34)
Goaltending leader: Riley Lamb (10-10-1-1, 3.43 GAA, .897 SV%, 3 SO)
Power play: 17th – 17.1 per cent
Penalty kill: T-15th – 76.9 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Brandon Hagel (upper body, day to day); D Jacob Herauf (lower body, week to week); F Reese Johnson (upper body, indefinite), F Grayson Pawlenchuk (lower body, indefinite)
Prince George Cougars
Head coach: Richard Matvichuk
Scoring leaders: LW Nikita Popugaev (23-30-53); C Jansen Harkins (10-30-40); C Brad Morrison (16-23-39)
Goaltending leader: Ty Edmonds (22-7-1-0, 2.16 GAA, .921 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: 18th – 16.4 per cent
Penalty kill: First – 87.1 per cent
Jan. 10 – Prince George at Red Deer
Jan. 27 – Prince George at Red Deer
Feb. 21 – Red Deer at Prince George
WHL on Shaw schedule
Saturday, Jan. 14 – Prince George Cougars at Calgary Hitmen
Tuesday, Jan. 17 – Moose Jaw Warriors at Kamloops Blazers
Saturday, Jan. 21 – Regina Pats at Swift Current Broncos