Cougars looking for more wins
The Prince George Cougars have taken Step 1 of coach Dean Clark’s plan to get more goals.
Now they need to take the next step.
Last week, with the Cougars on a six-game losing streak, Clark said, “I think some of the guys are maybe squeezing their sticks a bit. They’re looking for the perfect shot instead of just firing at the net and seeing what happens.”
The Cougars ended the skid with a 4-2 win over the Spokane Chiefs, then made it two in a row with a 3-2 shootout win over Brandon on Saturday at CN Centre.
“I think the message got through (about taking more shots),” Clark said, as the Cougars outshot the Wheat Kings 15-3 in the first period and 38-14 over the first 40 minutes. “Now we just have to get a couple more shots to go in.
“When you outshoot the other team 15-3, you figure you should be up about 3-0. We were still scoreless.”
In fact, through two periods, only one of the 38 Cougar shots had beaten Curtis Honey, and that was Marc McNulty’s second goal in two games.
“We got the lead,” Clark said, “and then we made it 2-0 early in the third (on Brett Roulston’s second goal in two games), and we were still playing the style of hockey we wanted to play.”
Then things went off the tracks for a bit.
“We played very well with the exception of the last few minutes,” which saw Brandon score two goals to send the game to overtime and, eventually, a shootout.
Jayce Hawryluk scored on Brandon’s first chance in the shootout against Mac Engel, but Caleb Belter tied it for the Cougars in the third round and Zach Pochiro got the winner in the fifth round.
“I was glad Zach got that goal in the shootout, because that was a game we deserved to win.”
Clark said the win was a good team effort, just like the Wednesday game against Spokane, but pointed to a couple of special cases.
“That’s two games in a row now with goals for Marc (McNulty) and Brett (Roulston, and that’s great. The other guys have to get better at putting the puck in the net.”
The Cougars aren’t back in action until Friday night, when they start a two-game southern road trip in Kamloops.
“We need to catch our breath after some of the travelling we’ve been doing,” Clark says. “We’re moving towards a couple of important games.”
Going into a Tuesday-night game in Everett, Kamloops had not lost in regulation this season, with 15 wins and one shootout loss. At 31 points, they already had a 13-point lead in the B.C. Division over Victoria and Kelowna, with the Cougars another three points back.
After the Friday game in Kamloops, the Cougars finish the trip with a game Saturday in Kelowna.
Then they return home for a doubleheader with the Edmonton Oil Kings on Nov. 9 and 10 before hitting the road for a game in Vancouver on Nov. 11.