Review of the season: The Prince George Cougars are back in the WHL playoffs for the first time since 2017. The Cougars clinched sixth place in the Western Conference after their final game of the WHL regular season. The Cougars finished their 68-game schedule with a 24-39-4-1 record and finished fourth in the BC Division. Prince George, Vancouver and Spokane all finished with 53 points. The Cougars won a three-way tiebreaker on goal differential, setting up a first-round game with the Portland Winterhawks. Portland clinched its playoff ticket in February and finished second in the American Division with 47 wins and 99 points.
|1||Prince George (2)||@||Portland (5)||friday april 22||7:00|
|2||Prince George||@||Portland||Saturday April 23||6:00|
|3||Portland||@||Prince George||tuesday 26 april||7:00|
|4||Portland||@||Prince George||Wednesday April 27||7:00|
|5*||Prince George||@||Portland||Saturday April 30||5:00|
|6*||Portland||@||Prince George||Monday, May 2||7:00|
|seven *||Prince George||@||Portland||Wednesday May 4||7:00|
Recap of the first game: The Portland Winterhawks took a 1-0 series lead Friday with their 5-2 win in Game 1 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Special teams played a big role in Game 1, as Portland scored three times on the power play, including twice in the first period.
The Winterhawks got off to a fast start, scoring three times in the first nine minutes of the game to lead 3-0 in 20 minutes. Cross Hanas (1G-1A), Gabe Klassen (1G-1A), Jack O’Brien (1G-1A) and Luca Cagnoni (0G-2A) each had multipoint nights for Portland. Taylor Gauthier stopped 32 of 34 shots in Portland’s net.
Riley Heidt led the way for Prince George, as the 17-year-old picked up two points (1G-1A) in the loss. Connor Bowie also scored for the Cougars on the powerplay in the second period. Ty Young started for Prince George but gave up three goals on 13 shots in just under nine minutes of work. Tyler Brennan replaced Young in the first period and stopped 23 of 24 shots until the end.
Season Series: Portland won all four regular season games, outscoring the Cougars 22-8. Riley Heidt led the Cougars with five points (3G-2A) in four games against the Winterhawks. Hudson Thornton (1G-2A), Ethan Samson (0G-3A) and Koehn Ziemmer (0G-3A) all had three points. Overage Winterhawks forward Jaydon Dureau had 11 points (2G-9A) in just three games against Prince George, including two four-point games. Tyson Kozak (3G-4A) and James Stefan (3G-4A) each had seven points against Prince George. The Cougars’ last victory in Portland dates back to the 2017-18 season, a 3-0 victory on October 1st2017.
Prince George Cougars
General Manager and Head Coach: Mark Lamb
2021-22 review: GP 68 24-39-4-1 (6th Western Conference)
A way: 12-21-1-0
last 10: 4-4-2-0
2022 playoff leaders
Riley Heidt (1G-1A)
Connor Bowie (1G)
Carter MacAdams (1A)
Hudson Thornton (1A)
Koehn Ziemmer (1A)
Players to watch
- Koehn Ziemmer: Ziemmer is looking to snap an eight-game scoreless streak tonight in Game 2. Last night, Ziemmer had an assist and led his team with six shots on goal. He had a great chance in the third period to break the drought but was robbed by Taylor Gauthier’s glove. Ziemmer led the Cougars in scoring with 30 regular season goals. He hasn’t scored since March 30, but if he can score one tonight, the floodgates could open.
- Riley Heidt: Impressive playoff debut for Riley Heidt. The Cougars’ first-line center had a goal and an assist in Friday’s loss. A lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of Heidt, who, in his first playoff series, takes on the first minutes of the line and faces the best Winterhawks duos. He was good in the first game, can he do it again in the second game?
- Keaton Dowhaniuk: Another impressive performance in Game 1 was defenseman Keaton Dowhaniuk. The 17-year-old has arguably played his best hockey in recent weeks and certainly didn’t look overwhelmed managing many tough minutes alongside Jonas Brøndberg. The 17-year-old had two shots on goal last night and was and was level. He’s getting more and more confident with the puck in the offensive zone, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes an offensive impact in this series.
General Manager and Head Coach: mike johnson
2021-22 review: GP 68 47-16-3-2 (3rd Western Conference)
A way: 24-9-0-1
last 10: 9-1-0-0
2022 playoff leaders
Hanas Cross (1G-1A)
Gabe Klassen (1G-1A)
Jack O’Brien (1G-1A)
Lucas Cagnoni (2A)
Aiden Litke (1G)
James Stefan (1G)
Players to watch
- Hanas Cross: The Winterhawks’ leading scorer in the regular season didn’t miss a beat in Game 1. The 19-year-old Detroit Red Wings prospect had two points (1G-1A) in Portland’s 5-2 win. His line with Tyson Kozak and Robbie Fromm-Delorme is a handful to deal with. Hanas is a threat every time he touches the puck.
- The “other guys”: Really, the Winterhawks have two front lines, as their second line on paper is Jaydon Dureau, Gabe Klassen and James Stefan. This trio had four points on Friday and combined 185 points in the regular season. Portland’s depth is hard to beat and creates nightmares for the opponent.
- Taylor Gautier: Gauthier did it to his old team on Friday. The puck blocker made 32 saves and was named the game’s first star. The 5-2 score blurs the fact that the Cougars were pressing the last two periods and Gauthier had to make some tough saves in the final period. Very good start in the playoffs for the prospect of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Prince George found success last night creating traffic around his net and recording rebounds. Can they have more tonight?