Tonight at the CN Centre in Prince George, the Vancouver Giants return to action for the first of a weekend double-header up north. Tonight’s game marks the second of eight meetings on the season between the two B.C. Division rivals who are both jostling each other for positioning in the B.C. Division. Heading into the weekend the Giants hold a four-point advantage over the Cougars for third in the B.C. Division but the Cats hold a game in hand. A win or two this weekend for the G-Men would be huge for their confidence as the month of December begins.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Head Coach: Richard Matvichuk
Home Record: 4-7-2-0
Last Game: A 5-3 loss in Kelowna Wednesday night over the Rockets
Last 10: 4-6-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 77/92 (-15)
Power Play: 14.2% (21st in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 82.6% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Kody McDonald (26GP – 15G – 11A – 26PTS), Dennis Cholowski (24GP – 8G – 14A – 22PTS), Jared Bethune (25GP – 7G – 15A – 22PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jared Bethune: The 20-year-old comes into tonight’s game second among Cougar forwards in scoring. He’s got seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points in 25 games played. Last season he had six goals and an assist for seven points in eight meetings against the Giants.
Jackson Leppard: The draft eligible forward from North Vancouver B.C. is having a strong second season in the WHL. He’s managed six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 23 games played so far this season while boasting a team-best +9 rating.
WHO’S ON D:
Dennis Cholowski: The Detroit Red Wings prospect was the first star back on October 27th when the Cougars defeated the Giants 2-1. He had a goal and an assist in that game. The Cougars captain Is second in team scoring with eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points. He’s earned points in four straight games (2G, 3A) heading into this weekend.
Josh Anderson: The 19-year-old Colorado Avalanche prospect is big, mean and physical. Injuries have limited him to just 12 games this season, but he’s chipped in with three assists and is a +2. No doubt he’ll see a bulk of the minutes against the likes of Ty Ronning and Tyler Benson.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Tavin Grant?: The Cougars still have three goaltenders listed on their roster, but Tavin Grant has played a bulk of the minutes among the three. He also helped guide the Cougars to that 2-1 victory against Vancouver back on October 27th at the LEC. He’s 7-7-2-0 this season with a 3.13 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage.
Kody McDonald: The Cougars leading scorer comes into tonight’s game with 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 26 games. He’s quick, he’s rugged and he’s got a terrific shot. Keying in McDonald and his linemates will be of paramount importance tonight for the Giants.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Road Record: 4-6-2-2
Last Game: A 4-3 overtime victory at home over Seattle on Tuesday.
Last 10: 5-4-1-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 99/105
Power Play: 23.8% (10th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 73.5% (18th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (27GP – 25G – 12A – 37PTS), James Malm (27GP – 11G – 17A – 28PTS), Brad Morrison (27GP – 7G – 20A – 27PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Tyler Benson: The Giants captain is coming off a one goal, one assist effort. His goal came at the 3:33 mark of overtime Tuesday and lifted the Giants back into the win column over Seattle. Benson has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 14 games since returning to the Giants lineup. He’s riding a five-game point streak and has five goals and four assists in that span.
Ty Ronning: The 20-year-old came through in the clutch big-time Tuesday scoring a power play goal with the net empty to tie the game at three goals apiece. Ronning has already matched his goal totals from a season ago, and did so in 37 fewer games. He leads the Giants in outright scoring with 25 goals and 37 points through 27 games.
WHO’S ON D:
Dylan Plouffe: The 18-year-old has managed four goals and 16 assists for 20 points through 27 games this season. He’s logged big minutes in all situations and is on the plus-side of the coin with a +2 rating. A lot has been asked from Plouffe in recent weeks and he’s risen to the occasion
Darian Skeoch: The 20-year-old is one of the inspirational leaders for this Giants team and has provided strong and sturdy minutes for the Giants all season long. Given the injuries on the Giants back-end Skeoch along with Plouffe will be tasked with logging big minutes this weekend up north.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck: The 18-year-old comes into tonight’s game with a record of 6-6-0-1 through 14 appearances. He brings a 3.47 goals-against-average and an .897 save percentage into tonight’s start. Last season Tendeck was 1-1 against the Giants with an .891 save percentage and a 3.39 goals-against-average. His victory against Prince George took place in February 8th where he stopped 38 of the 40 shots fired his way and was named the game’s first star.
Brad Morrison: The 20-year-old played 260 career games in a Cougars uniform. Tonight marks the first time that he’ll have played a game back in his hometown of Prince George since the trade that took place in the summer. For the season, Morrison has a team-high 20 assists along with seven goals.