August 26, 2017
After fitness testing, orientation and a Young Guns Game, Saturday was highlighted by five scrimmages at Prince George Cougars Training Camp inside the CN Centre. It was the first real opportunity for the roughly 100 players in attendance to make an impression on the Cougars’ brass. The veterans did what many expected they’d do, but a crop of young prospects also made noise with several strong performances.
Game 1: Team Byfuglien 5 – Team Chara 2
Team Byfuglien (White) got off to a great start Saturday morning, cruising to a 5-2 win thanks in part to Jake Tidman’s two-goal performance.
Game 2: Team Connolly 6 – Team Hamhuis 4
Cade Mason and Brendan Kochanski each had a pair of goals in Team Connolly’s win but it was another veteran generating all the buzz. Team Connolly defenceman Shane Collins broke a 4-4 tie late in the third period, scoring the eventual game-winner with just 59-seconds left on the clock.
The 20-year-old came down the right-wing and from near the wall, forced a slap-shot underneath the goalie’s arm on the short-side; Kochanski added an empty-net goal a seconds later. Cougars’ veterans Aaron Boyd and Josh Curtis scored in a losing cause for Team Hamhuis.
Game 3: Team Brewer 6 – Team Byfuglien 4
Team Brewer won their first game of camp in comeback fashion, erasing a 3-1 second period deficit for the 6-4 win. Brendan Morrow scored twice and so did recently signed defenceman Dennis Cholowski.
Joel Lakusta scored again for Team Byfuglien and so did Radovan Bondra but it wasn’t enough as they dropped their first game of the weekend. Trailing 3-1 to start the third period, Team Brewer erupted for four goals in the final frame to seal the comeback win. Morrow scored both of his goals in the third period and so did Jaxon Danilec.
Ben Coppinger also lit the lamp for Team Brewer.
Game 4: Team Connolly 6 – Team Chara 4
In what turned out to be a back-and-forth game, it was a decisive third period for Team Connolly that was the difference. Of their six goals, three were in the third period as they broke a 3-3 tie and turned it into a 6-4 win.
Vladislav Mikhalchuk, the Cougars pick, 54th overall, in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, grabbed people’s attention with a two-goal game.
Mikhalchuk scored twice early in the third, breaking the game wide open after it was deadlocked at 3-3. Marco Mazza also had an impressive showing, scoring twice himself and setting up Mikhalchuk for his first of two.
Game 5: Team Brewer 6 – Team Hamhuis 1
The last game of Day 2 was the most lopsided of the five Saturday, as Team Brewer ran away with it. Black spread the offence around, as they had six different scores, including Dennis Cholowski who scored again.
It was a quick start for the “Brew Crew,” as Jaxon Danilec opened the scoring four-minutes in and Kody McDonald doubled their lead midway through the frame. The nicest goal of the game came seconds into the second, as McDonald danced his way into the zone, before alertly dishing the puck to Cholowski who wrapped it around and inside the far-post.
Team Brewer scored the final four goals of the game, two in each of the second and their periods, as they finished the day undefeated (2-0).
Day 3 of Cougars Training Camp continues Sunday with five games and all the action begins at 10 am. Remember, the annual Black & White game, the Rob Charney Cup, goes Monday night at 7 pm; admission is FREE.