PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants vs. Prince George Cougars (Game #35)
Recent Vancouver Giants Teddy Bear Goal Scorers:
2012 – Trevor Cheek
2013 – Trent Lofthouse
2014- Jackson Houck
2015 – Ty Ronning
2016 – James Malm
2017 – ????
t’s arguably the most hotly anticipated game of the season for all 22 WHL teams. There’s just something magical about Teddy Bear Toss. The players love it, the fans can’t get enough of it and most importantly there are so many local charities that benefit from the generosity of Giants fans during the holiday season. Tonight at the Langley Events Centre the latest chapter of Vancouver Giants Teddy Bear Toss history will be written when the Giants go head-to-head with the Prince George Cougars. The Giants have won five straight games and seven of their last eight and with a victory tonight would move within three points of first place in the B.C. Division standings. But the Prince George Cougars are no easy foe and will prove to be a most difficult challenge indeed for the Giants as both teams are wrapping up a stretch of three games in three nights.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Head Coach: Richard Matvichuk
Road Record: 5-8-0-2
Last Game: A 4-0 loss in Everett last night.
Last 10: 3-6-1-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 101/118 (-17)
Power Play: 15.8% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill (82.6% (3rd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: jared Bethune (32GP – 9G – 20A – 29PTS), Kody McDonald (30GP – 15G – 13A – 28PTS), Dennis Cholowski (30GP – 8G – 19A – 27PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jared Bethune: The 20-year-old comes into tonight’s game leading all Cougars with 29 points in 32 games. His 20 assists are tops on the team. He’s been the epitome of durability during his tenure in Prince George considering he’s only missed one game in the past three seasons.
Kody McDonald: The 19-year-old from Lethbridge, AB has 15 goals in 30 games which leads the Prince George Cougars attack. McDonald sits one point back of Bethune for the team lead and also sits atop the Cougars in penalty minutes with 41.
WHO’S ON D:
Dennis Cholowski: The Cougars captain ranks third on the team in scoring with eight goals and 19 assists for 27 points. Back on October 27th Cholowski was named the game’s first star in the Cougars 2-1 victory over the Giants at the Langley Events Centre. Cholowski was one of 32 players invited to Canada’s World Junior camp earlier this month, and to the surprise and shock of many he was not selected to Team Canada’s roster.
Josh Anderson: The Colorado Avalanche prospect brings a little bit everything to the table for the Cougars. Offensively he won’t wow you, but he plays a strong and physical two-way game. The 19-year-old is going to be asked to log a lot of big minutes tonight in all situations for the visitors.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Tavin Grant?: The Cougars still have three goaltenders on their active roster in Tavin Grant, Taylor Gauthier and Isaiah DiLaura. Gauthier played last night in Everett and stopped 50 shots in a 4-0 shutout loss. DiLaura could start, but he’s only appeared in four games, which leaves Grant who fell 5-3 in Seattle Friday, but was very impressive back on October 27th when he guided the Cougars to a 2-1 victory at the LEC.
Team Defense: The Prince George Cougars are 2-1 against the G-Men this season and in both of their victories their recipe has been very similar: Get a lead and frustrate and wear down the Giants with strong structure. Fatigue and travel are going to be factors today for both teams, which means that the team that’s able to play with the most hustle and structure will give themselves the best chance to win.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Home Record: 10-6-0-0
Last Game: A 6-2 victory over the Victoria Royals on the road last night.
Last 10: 7-3-0-0
Goals For/Goals Against: 125/123 (+2)
Power Play: 23.1% (9th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 74.8% (17th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (34GP – 31G – 14A – 45PTS), James Malm (34GP – 13G – 22A – 35PTS), Brad Morrison (34GP – 10G – 22A – 32PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The 20-year-old would be the odds-on favorite to score this year’s Teddy Bear goal for the Giants due to the fact that he’s scored 31 goals in 34 games this season. The New York Rangers prospect had two goals in last night’s victory in Victoria and leads the team in scoring with 45 points.
Brayden Watts: The 18-year-old California native had two goals in last night’s game and has now arrived at 10 goals for the season. Watts played a strong game alongside linemates Dawson Holt and Tyler Ho, and did a fine job in all three zones for Vancouver. He’ll look to replicate that type of success tonight.
WHO’S ON D:
Dylan Plouffe: He may not be receiving the same type of fanfare as some of the high-flying forwards, but Dylan Plouffe is having a tremendous season for the Giants. His six goals and 22 assists rank him fifth in team scoring heading into today’s game. On the whole he’s tied for eighth in WHL scoring among defencemen. His two goals last night came at big moments in the third period, allowing the Giants to earn their fifth straight win.
Alex Kannok Leipert: Another game, and another assist for the rookie defenceman who continues to play terrific two-way hockey for the Giants. The Regina native has a goal and 14 assists for 15 points and his +12 rating is second on the team behind only Ty Ronning.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck?: David Tendeck is likely to get the start this afternoon, mainly due to the fact that it’s a quick turnaround and he’s the fresher of the two guys. Tendeck’s body of work as of late has been remarkably impressive as he’s 5-0 in December and has won each of his past five starts. His overall record sits at 11-6-0-1 with a 3.07 goals-against-average and a .907 save percentage.
Empty the Tank: Last weekend the Giants earned two emotional hard-fought victories against the Portland Winterhawks before sagging against the visiting Kootenay Ice. The Giants rallied in the third and ended up winning the game, but it was an important reminder for the Giants that nothing in the WHL comes easy. The Giants are 1-2 against the Cougars this season and the Cougars aren’t about to make things easy for Vancouver during their Teddy Bear Toss game. Jason McKee’s crew deserves a ton of credit for their recent run of success, but that holiday break will feel all the sweeter if the Giants can empty the tank and come up with one final solid effort/victory Sunday at home.