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PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants at Prince George Cougars (Game #43)

Tonight in Prince George, the Vancouver Giants take the ice for game number four of a five-game swing. It’s day nine of a 10-day trip for the Giants who are looking to secure their fifth straight win and their seventh consecutive victory away from home. Tonight’s matchup with Prince George marks the seventh of eight meetings on the season between the two clubs and the sixth meeting between the two teams since December 1st.

January 9th at PG

 PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS

 OVERVIEW:

Record: 15-18-4-3

Home Record: 8-8-3-1

Last Game: A 6-5 shootout loss to the Tri-City Americans at home on Saturday night

Last 10: 4-4-1-1

Goals For/Goals Against: 126/149 (-23)

Power Play: 17.8% (18th in WHL)

Penalty Kill: 79;1% (8th in WHL)

Leading Scorers: Dennis Cholowski (37GP – 13G – 26A – 39PTS), Jared Bethune (39GP – 13G – 25A – 38PTS), Josh Maser (40G – 16A – 9A – 25PTS)

WHO’S UP FRONT:

Jared Bethune: Over his past four games, the 20-year-old has compiled four goals and four assists for eight points. His 13 goals are tied for second most on the team and he’s been especially dangerous lately on the power play. For the season Bethune has notched three goals and seven assists with the extra attacker.

Josh Maser: The 18-year-old from Houston, B.C. leads all Cougars in scoring with 16 goals. The sophomore forward is in the midst of a legitimate ‘breakout’ season. Seven of his 16 goals have come via the power play and he’s coming off a four-point weekend against Tri-City.

 WHO’S ON D:

Dennis Cholowski: For now anyway Dennis Cholowski remains a Prince George Cougar. The Detroit Red Wings first rounder leads all Cougars in scoring with 13 goals and 26 assists for 39 points. He’s been especially dangerous against the Giants this season leading the charge with five goals and five assists against the Giants in just six games.

Rhett Rhinehart: The 16-year-old defenceman was the key piece that Cougars GM acquired (along with a first-round draft pick) in a recent trade with the Prince Albert Raiders. Rhinehart was selected by the Raiders in the first round of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft and was Bowen Byram’s teammate at the World Under-17’s where they captured a Silver Medal.

WHO’S IN GOAL:

Taylor Gauthier?: The 16-year-old was the ninth overall selection in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. He’s 1-0 this season against the Giants and overall has put together a record of 4-7-1-1 in his first full campaign in the Western Hockey League. Richard Matvichuk may very well opt to play Tavin Grant who has showed well against the Giants several times this season, but Gauthier did lead the Cougars to a 6-2 victory against Vancouver in Prince George on December 2nd.

X-FACTOR:

Protect The Lead: When these teams last met on December 30th and January 1st the Cougars took an early multi-goal lead on both occasions. In both games the Cougars squandered their lead and they needed third period heroics from Dennis Cholowski on both occasiosn which led them to a victory and an overtime loss. A big key for the Cougars tonight will be to protect a lead if/when they get it.

 

 

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS

 OVERVIEW:

Record: 23-14-3-2

Road Record: 11-7-2-2

Last Game: A 5-3 victory on Saturday in Medicine Hat

Last 10: 8-1-1-0

Power Play: 22.8% (10th in WHL)

Penalty Kill: 76.6% (14TH in WHL)

Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (42GP – 36G – 17A – 53PTS), Tyler Benson (29GP – 17G – 24A – 41PTS), James Malm (42GP – 15G – 26A – 41PTS)

 WHO’S UP FRONT:

Ty Ronning: The 20-year-old New York Rangers prospect has goals in two straight and sits second in the entire WHL with 36 goals, trailing only Moose Jaw’s Jayden Halbgewachs. Ronning’s 53 points are tops on the team. In six meetings against Prince George in 2017-18, Ronning has registered five goals and an assist.

Tyler Benson: Over the past six games, Benson has scored four goals while adding five assists for nine points. He leads all Giants in scoring this season against Prince George with three goals and five assists for eight points. He is tied for second in goal scoring (17) and points (41).

WHO’S ON D:

Brennan Riddle: Newly acquired 20-year-old Brennan Riddle should draw into the Giants lineup tonight for the first time. Yesterday the G-Men acquired Riddle from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for forward Brad Morrison. Riddle brings a ton of experience and character to the table, and a having a third left-handed shooting defenceman back there gives Jason McKee some more flexibility with his defense pairings.

Dylan Plouffe: Over the past five games, Dylan Plouffe has a goal and four assists for five points. The Giants leading scorer from the back-end has set a new season-high for goals (7) and points (33). His +7 plus-minus rating ranks him fourth on the team. 13 of Plouffe’s 33 points this season have come via the power play.

WHO’S IN GOAL:

David Tendeck?: Jason McKee has yet to confirm his starter for tonight, but given the fact that Todd Scott played Saturday, it might mean that it’ll be David Tendeck back between the pipes for Vancouver. Tendeck is 2-0 against Prince George this season with a 2.37 goals-against-average and a .938 save percentage. Todd Scott on the other-hand is 1-2-1-0 wth a 4.03 goals-against-average and an .861 save percentage.

 X-FACTOR:

Milos Roman: The Vancouver Giants will get a major boost tonight with the return of Milos Roman. The talented draft eligible Slovak will suit up for his first game with the Giants since December 15th. To their credit the Giants went 6-1-1-0 without their top center, but inserting his eight goals and 21 assists back into the lineup will be a big-time boost. Even with Roman’s lengthy absence he still ranks second in the WHL amongst rookies in scoring.

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