The Cariboo Cougars are in the midst of one of the greatest British Columbia Major Midget League (BCMML) seasons ever and a big reason is their stifling defence.
Through 30 games, the Cougars were 25-4-1 with just 50 goals against (1.67 per game). They had allowed three goals or more in just a seven of their games, plus recorded a shutout in another seven.
If the Cougars keep up their strong play, they can set the league record for fewest goals allowed and best goals against average. However, it will take a strong finish from the squad out of Prince George.
Offensively, as of late January, Cariboo had 153 goals for 5.1 per game. Their offence is led by Daine Dubois (46 points) and Mason Richey (23 goals, 41 points). Dubois ranks seventh in the league in points, while Richey is third in goals.
WHL drafted forwards include Reid Perepeluk (Prince George), Riley Krane (Regina Pats), Ty John Kolle (Portland) and Myles Mattila (Vancouver), providing some good pedigree and skill throughout the lineup.
In net, the tandem of Zack Wickson (1.38 GAA) and Marcus Allen (1.88 GAA) have been outstanding as they’ve split the season, getting in 15 appearances each so far. They’ve been exactly what the team needs in a schedule that features games on consecutive nights.
Of course, having two big, WHL-drafted defencemen on the point sure helps keep the pucks out too. Joel Patsey and Jonas Harkins, drafted by the local Prince George Cougars, make competition tough each night.
Harkins was drafted in the second round by the Prince George Cougars in 2015 and the general manager of the team is his father, Todd, a former NHLer. Older brother Jansen, a second round choice of the Winnipeg Jets, currently plays for the WHL’s Cougars as well.
Another defenceman making a huge impact is Jeremy Gervais, who leads all blueliners with 12 goals and 33 points. He was a First-Team BCMML All-Star last year and looks like he is on his way back.
The Vancouver NE Chiefs were right on the heels of the Cougars in the BCMML at 21-4-3 with two games in hand. Their year is just as impressive, and at press time, their goals against average was 2.00 – slightly more than Cariboo. However, the Cougars have a smaller market to draw players from and fewer resources.
As the hosts of the 2017 Telus Cup, Canada’s national Midget championship, the Cougars had to ice a strong team this year to compete with the best. They’ve drawn from local players in Prince George, but also other northern cities like Vanderhoof, Williams Lake, Houston, Dawson Creek, Quesnel and Hazelton.
British Columbia hasn’t had a team win the Telus Cup since 1982 and have only gotten two other medals in the past 34 years. Expectations are high for the host Cougars.
In 2011-12, the Vancouver NW Giants finished the year with just 66 goals against in 40 contests – an average of 1.65. Braden Krogfoss and Liam Smith manned the crease and were first and second, respectively, in goals against average rankings. Neither goalie became a standout in junior, but they were superb that year.
As for the offensive record, the NW Giants also have the best-all time mark at 6.15 per game when they scored 246 in 2008-09. That team was lead by future WHL and NHL No.1 pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, along with Brady Brassart and Colton Sissons, who both had WHL seasons with more than 25 goals.
The Prince George-based squad won’t clinch the best-ever record – held by the NW Giants who went 36-2-2 in 2007-08 – but they have a shot at the goals-against mark.
While they recently lost two close games to the second place Vancouver NE Chiefs (2-1, 3-2), they’re still on track for a huge season. The Cougars rebounded the following weekend with 7-1 and 5-2 victories over the South Island Royals.
Even if they don’t manage to knock the Giants out of the books, the Cougars have proven they are one of the top teams and should be a favourite at the Telus Cup in April.Back to Top
1) The New Age of Hockey Training and Development
2) Jack Hughes wins 2017 Hockey Player of the Year Award for Ontario
3) 4 Takeaways from the 2017 WHL Cup
4) Kids Share Love of Hockey with Taste of Fame at 2017 BT Hockey Classic
5) Team Canada Roster Named for 2017 Women’s Worlds