It’s no April Fool’s joke.
The Prince George Cougars will host a playoff game for the first time in four seasons on April 1.
The Cougars clinched a playoff berth and a first-round matchup against the Victoria Cougars with a 3-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers at the CN Centre on Friday. The Series against the Royals starts with games Marcj 27 and 28 in Victoria.
The win nailed down third place in the B.C. Division for the Cougars and left the Blazers on the brink of elimination from the playoff race. The Tri-City Americans downed the Portland Winterhawks 4-2 Friday and now have a two-point lead on the Blazers for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Blazers’ last game is tonight when they host the Cougars, while Tri-City has two games left: tonight at home to Spokane and Sunday in Portland. A point in either game, or a Blazer loss, would put Tri-City in the playoffs.
Friday night’s game in Prince George saw the teams battle through a scoreless first period before David Soltes got the Cougars on the board two minutes into the second period. Kody McDonald made it 2-0 just 35 seconds into the third period before Cole Ully got the lead back to one with just under 12 minutes to go.
The Blazers pressed for the equalizer, and Cougars’ goalie Ty Edmonds made a number of sparkling saves to preserve the lead before Colby McAuley got the final goal with a minute and a half to go.
Before the game, the Cougars handed out eight new awards for the top players on this year’s squad. Jared Bethune received the Brett Connolly Award as the rookie of the year; Shane Collins received the Dr. Jeff Zorn Award as the scholastic player of the year; Ty Edmonds received the Chris Mason Award for the most 3 Star Selection points; Chase Witala won the Dorothy Johnson memorial as the fan favourite; Zach Pochiro received the Troy Bourke Award as offensive player of the year; Sam Ruopp received the Eric Brewer Award as the defensive player of the year; Tyler Mrkonjic won the Michael Fogolin Memorial as the players’ award; and Jansen Harkins won the Dan Hamhuis Award as the most valuable player.