Last season, the Prince George Cougars went 12-56-4. That was the poorest record in all of the 60-team CHL.
So raise your right hand if you thought they had a chance to be leading the B.C. Division with November about to turn into December.
Actually, they are tied for the lead but, at 14-10-2, they have one more victory than do the Vancouver Giants (13-9-4) so, at least for now, the Cougars are the No. 2 seed in the West Conference.
And who would have thought that?
More on this in the nightly roundup but the Cougars won their third game in a row on Saturday night. Not only that, it was their third victory in four nights. And they won each of those games in a different city.
It is fair to say that no one is kicking sand in the Cougars’ faces these days.
The fans have spoken. Take a trip over to hockeyfights.com and check out the fights involving goaltenders. There are a bunch of videos there and the favourite one of the bunch involves two WHL goaltenders of rather recent vintage. Check it out right here.
Last season, F Mitch Fadden (Seattle, Lethbridge, Tri-City, 2003-09) appeared on the verge of earning a spot in the NHL. This season, he is leading the ECHL in scoring. What happened? Woody Wommack of the Naples News has that story right here.
Some Saturday highlights from WHL games:
In Saskatoon, F Curtis Hamilton had two goals and an assist to lead the Blades to a 6-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Hamilton has 15 goals on the season and is sure to be among those players receiving invitations Monday to the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp. . . . The Raiders had beaten the visiting Blades 3-1 on Friday. . . . F Josh Nicholls added a goal and two assists for the Blades. . . . F Lukas Sutter, who scored his first WHL goal on Friday, added another in this one. . . . Attendance was 4,474. . . .
In Brandon, D Collin Bowman scored at 18:48 of the third period to break a 3-3 tie and give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . The Warriors had beaten Brandon 5-4 in Moose Jaw on Friday, with the winning goal coming from F Mackenzie Royer with 9.2 seconds left in the third. . . . This also was Moose Jaw’s third victory over Brandon in eight days. . . . On Nov. 20, the Warriors won 4-2 in Brandon when F Quinton Howden broke a 2-2 tie at, yes, 18:48, of the third period. . . . Brandon now has lost seven in a row. Earlier this season, it went through a nine-game losing skein. . . . F Shayne Wiebe had all three of Brandon’s goals, giving him 15 on the season. His third goal, at 10:17 of the third, tied it at 3. . . . F Quinton Howden had two goals for Moose Jaw, giving him 15. . . . Moose Jaw G Thomas Heemskerk stopped 46 shots. . . . Attendance was 3,841. . . .
In Lethbridge, F Brad Hoban drew three assists to help the Swift Current Broncos to a 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos have won three in a row. . . . Swift Current D Reece Scarlett opened the scoring with his second goal of the season at 6:24 of the first period and the teams alternated goals after that. . . . Swift Current F Adam Lowry broke a 3-3 tie on the PP at 14:00 of the third. . . . F Cody Eakin had two assists for the Broncos. . . . The Hurricanes got a goal and an assist from each of F Russell Maxwell and Mark Reners. . . . Lethbridge F Neil Tarnasky got his first career goal in his 18th game of this season. He was goalless in 57 games last season. . . . Attendance was 3,075. . . .
In Calgary, F Michael St. Croix continued his hot November with two goals and assist to led the Oil Kings to a 3-1 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Oil Kings have won three in a row. . . . Edmonton G Jon Groenheyde stopped 17 shots. He is 5-3-0, 2.93, .897 since coming over from the Kamloops Blazers in a trade. . . . St. Croix, who has 16 points in 11 games this month, now has 29 points in 26 games on the season. . . . He broke a 1-1 tie with his 14th goal at 3:24 of the third period. . . . Attendance was 9,760. . . .
In Kamloops, D Martin Marincin scored a goal and earned three assists as his Prince George Cougars beat the Blazers, 7-5. . . . Marincin, a second-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2010 NHL draft, has nine goals and 21 assists in his first 26 WHL games. . . . F Charles Inglis scored twice for the Cougars, who won three games this week. They beat the Bruins 4-0 in Chilliwack on Wednesday and the visiting Regina Pats 5-3 on Friday. . . . F Brendan Ranford had two goals -- he leads the WHL with 24 -- and an assist for Kamloops. . . . F Brett Connolly scored his 20th goal of the season for Prince George. He left the game seven minutes into the third period with an apparent injury to his right arm. After a trip to the dressing room, he came back and finished up. The team reports that he was hit by a puck. . . . The Cougars lost F Brock Hirsche in the first period when he was hit in the right eye by a puck. He had a patch over the eye after the game, but the team said he will be fine. . . . F Nick Buonassisi had a goal and two assists for the Cougars. . . . C Chase Schaber drew three assists for the Blazers in his return from a three-game WHL-issued suspension. . . . Kamloops F Jordan DePape chipped in a goal and two helpers. . . . Each team scored three PP goals, while the Cougars also got a shorthanded marker. . . . The Blazers have surrendered a shorthanded goal in each of their last three games. . . . Cougars G James Priestner, who began his WHL career in Kamloops, stopped 36 shots. . . . Attendance was 4,099. . . .
In Everett, the Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Silvertips, 5-3. . . . F Linden Vey, who leads the WHL with 46 points, had a goal, his 17th, and two assists. . . . F Emerson Etem scored twice for the Tigers, getting them into a 3-3 tie at 12:50 of the second period and providing insurance at 18:48 of the third. He has 17 goals. . . . F Dylan Bredo, with his second of the season, got the winner, unassisted, at 12:59. It was his third goal in 76 career games. . . . F Jari Erricson, a 16-year-old freshman from Prince George, scored three times for the Silvertips. They were his first WHL goals and came in his 17th game. . . . The Tigers, who play in Portland on today, have won six in a row. . . . Attendance was 5,225. . . .
In Red Deer, F Daulton Siwak’s shootout goal gave the Rebels a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . D Colin Archer’s third goal of the season, at 1:46 of the third period, gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead. . . . Vancouver tied it on goals by D Neil Manning, his seventh, just 16 seconds later, and F Jordan Martinook, at 4:34. . . . Red Deer also got a shootout goal from F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, while F Craig Cunningham scored for Vancouver. The shootout went 10 deep. . . . Red Deer G Darcy Kuemper stopped 38 shots. . . . Vancouver went 0-1-1 on its two-game trek into Alberta. The Giants head home for a Tuesday night date with Saskatoon as the Blades begin their B.C. Division tour. . . . Attendance in Red Deer was 5,254. . . .
In Kent, Wash., the visiting Kootenay Ice scored six straight goals and beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 6-2. . . . F Steele Boomer erased a 1-0 Seattle lead with his fifth and sixth goals. They both came on the PP at 13:07 and 17:33 of the first. . . . The Ice had been blanked in each of its previous two games. Boomer‘s first goal ended a scoreless stretch of 138:19. . . . F Kevin King had a goal and two assists for the Ice, which got two assists from each of F Matt Fraser and F Joe Antilla. . . . Seattle G Calvin Pickard was lifted at 5:03 of the second period after being beaten five times on 23 shots. . . . Uhh, it just happened to be Calvin Pickard Bobblehead Night. . . . Attendance was 4,074. . . . The Ice has added F Sam Reinhart, its first-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft, to its roster for three games. He has 32 points in 16 games with the major midget Vancouver-North West Giants. . . .
In Spokane, F Geordie Wudrick’s PP goal just 42 seconds into OT gave the Kelowna Rockets a 3-2 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Wudrick scored twice, giving him 12 on the season. He has five goals in last two games. . . . The Rockets took a 2-0 lead into the third period but the Chiefs tied it on goals by F Tyler Johnson, his 16th, on the PP at 8:58, and F Matt Marantz, shorthanded, at 13:05. Marantz’s goal, which went in off a Kelowna defender, originally was given to F Steven Kuhn, but was changed after the game. . . . D Tyson Barrie and F Shane McColgan each had two assists for Kelowna. . . . Mac Engel was in goal for the Chiefs after James Reid suffered a leg injury in Kamloops on Friday. The Chiefs lost 4-3 to the Blazers in a shootout in that one. . . . With Reid listed as day-to-day, the Chiefs had Branden Amatto, a 19-year-old local player, backing up Engel. . . . Kelowna has won four in a row and 10 of 11 in November. . . . Attendance was 5,918. . . .
In Kennewick, Wash., F Brendan Shinnimin was the only one of five skaters to score in the shootout as the Tri-City Americans beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 3-2. . . . The Americans, who have won three in a row, led 2-0 going into the third period but gave it up as F Brendan Leipsic scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season for Portland. . . . Portland G Keith Hamilton stopped 40 shots, five more than Tri-City’s Drew Owsley. . . . F Jordan Messier got his 16th goal for the Americans. . . . The Winterhawks have lost two in a row for the first time this season. They are at home to Medicine Hat today. . . . Attendance was 4,871.
SATURDAY’S CHECKING-FROM-BEHIND COUNT:
Edmonton F Travis Ewanyk
Calgary F Jimmy Bubnick
Spokane F Darren Kramer
Kamloops F Dylan Willick
Everett D Ryan Murray