Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cougars Youth=Rockets Demise

  • For a second straight night a 16 year-old Prince George Cougar rookie was a difference maker against the Kelowna Rockets. Friday night rookie Greg Fraser scored twice leading the Cougars to a 5-2 win over the Rockets while Saturday night it was 16 year-old Brent Connolly's turn to lead his team to a 3-2 shootout win. Connolly opened the scoring for the Cougars in the first period and then scored the only goal in the shootout leading the 8th seeded Cougars to four important points on the weekend. Unfortunately for the Rockets the trip up north only manufactured a single digit in the standings.
  • You had to feel for Tyler Myers for taking two delay of game penalties late in the third, allowing the Cougars back in the game. Firing the puck over the glass late in the game is one thing...doing it twice had you shaking your head. Even he must have been saying to himself 'This can't be happening'.
  • You would think the Rockets would have had the advantage in the shootout considering they went with Mikael Backlund, Colin Long and Tyson Barrie. Yet all three failed to score.
  • I thought the effort was better by the Rockets in the second game of the two game set at the CN Centre. But that effort and finish will have to improve substantially as they host Vancouver Wednesday night.
  • The power play fired blanks on the weekend against the Cougars, which comes as a huge surprise considering the talent of that five man unit. Since Mikael Backlund and Ian Duval joined the team that power play has just one goal in 11 chances.
  • Returning from the world juniors is never easy. After an emotional high, the letdown is often evident in players who return to their junior teams. Could that be the case involving Mikael Backlund, Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers? Neither of those three have exhibited the same tenacity or touch around the net like they did when playing at that high profile tournament. Trust me it will return, but let's just say its been a struggle for all three players.
  • A gutsy move by the coaching staff to sit overage defenseman Tysen Dowzak Saturday night. After Friday night's 5-2 loss, the coaching staff thought it would be best to sit the big defenseman for his sluggish play. While Dowzak may be one of the oldest players on the team, that shouldn't let him off the hook for sub par play. If you don't preform, you sit in the stands and watch. Let that be an example to other veterans on this team that may believe they are untouchable, yet will feel as disappointed as Dowzak did Saturday night by watching the game from the bleachers.
  • Give the Cougars some credit for their efforts this weekend. They did not play like an 8th place team, or did they? They played with desperation, like a team fighting for their playoff lives..which they are. Give the new coaching staff some credit for turning this team around. Visually they appear to be competing harder and are structurally sound. Would you want to meet this team in the opening round? Not the way there playing.
  • What's the downside of Brett Connolly's play? If he plays like this, the Cougars will experience something the Rockets went through this season. Connolly will play just three short seasons in Prince George before a weak team selects him in the NHL draft and prematurely makes him a pro at 18. By the time hockey fans in Prince George realize what's staring them in the face, he'll be gone.
  • Connolly has 20 goals, just 8 shy of Brayden Schenn's 28 last season. Kyle Beach had 29 goals when he was 16.
  • If I was the Cougars organization, my promotional package would include the face of this guy (Connolly) on every poster, season ticket package, and schedule they print next season. You see the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Western Hockey League doing it with Brayden Schenn...why wouldn't the Cougars organization capitalize on his successes and notoriety?


g.k said...

Well Regan I disagree on the choice's for the shoot-out. Long is a set-up guy rather than a goal scorer, Barrie is a defenceman, & Backlund has yet to net one for us, I think Huska should of gone with Almond & Novotny, who have excelled in the shoot-out's & not to have Jamie Benn in a shootout is, well a very bad decision, I really think Huska has made some bonehead moves lately & this was another one.

Regan Bartel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
entropyyy said...

I think the rockets were playing hard because they knew the lineup was gone now,and some are slacking off,figuring the people returning/joining the rockets are gonig to do everything. meyers is getting to be an eye sore,with all the mental errors it makes me wonder why he wasnt traded if he can't focus and get his head back in the game,because no offense to the rockets,but he doesnt have a team canada worthy goalie behind him,he cant just let it slide. we'll see how things go i suppose.

hocus_lopez said...

GK - I'm going to have to disagree with you about the shooters. Maybe Huska should have sent Novotny out there , but Almond is kind of one dimensional with his one-on-one moves. I watched the game and both Almond and Novotny were not having their best game (so it's easy to conclude they weren't put in the shootout). that being said, out of the three that shot, Long made the best move and the Goalie was very lucky by catching a piece of the puck as it sailed just wide of the net. I do agree that Blacklund's and Barrie's efforts were not the best. I don't think either one of those shots had a chance of going in.

Rocketwatcher said...

Ok. It's past the middle of January, no ten game winning streak, time for a mini rant. No one ever said it was easy to coach at any level, never mind the WHL , and I am of the opinion that Ryan is not head coach material. Between unsuccessful line juggling, inconsistent punishment policies, and the obvious lack of interest night after night of at least half the team at a time, this team is not playing up to it's potential. Example? Breaking up defence combinations that appear to be working: ditto with the forwards. Benching guys instead of teaching them better ways to play is infantile. We have traded away the players that were being sat...that is done. The onus now is on the coach and his statues, er, assistants to step up. I know you can't comment Regan but sheesh.....Prince George????