It's only preseason but the Prince George Cougars are off to a good start.
The Cougars doubled up the Red Deer Rebels 6-3 in a WHL exhibition contest Saturday in St. Albert, Alta., the first of two games the Cats will play in the annual Edmonton Oil Kings tournament.
Prince George will take on the Medicine Hat Tigers on Sunday, 10 a.m. (PST) before hopping on the bus to return home.
Rookie magic: The future looks good for the Cougars as a pair of 2012 bantam draft prospects, defenceman Tate Olson and forward Brad Morrison, contributed half the team's goals against the Rebels. Olson is slated to spend his 15-year-old season with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League, while Morrison will play in Prince George for the Cariboo Cougars. The other underage players in the Cats' lineup were Jansen Harkins (MML Vancouver NW Giants) who was a plus-two and Aaron Boyd, of Winnipeg.
Special teams: The Rebels had a distinct advantage with eight power-play opportunities, including a full eight minutes in the second period, but the Cougars' penalty killers met the challenge killing off seven minor penalties. Red Deer's power-play goal came late in the final period with the Cougars up 6-2. The penalty killers were rewarded for their hard work in the middle frame when Jarret Fontaine scored a goal with 13 seconds left to put the Cougars up 3-2. Prince George was 1-for-3 on their own power-play chances. Olson scored his first WHL preseason goal midway through the third period to give the Cats a 4-2 advantage.
Setup artists: Sporting the 'C' on the upper left side of his jersey 20-year-old defenceman Dan Gibb had two assists for his hometown team, while Jordan Tkatch picked up three helpers.
Nay-sayers: The Rebels started Grant Naherniak in net. The 16 year old played the full 60 minutes in his first taste of WHL action. Cats' players fired 23 shots at the rookie. In addition the Rebels iced a youthful lineup for the game.
Cats goalies: Brett Zarowny finished the game in the Cougars net stopping 8-of-9 shots he faced while Ty Edmonds played the first half of the game, making 11-of-13 saves.
Cat scratches: Devon Fordyce didn't dress for the game, nor did defencemen - Dallas Ehrhardt, Michael Mylchreest, Marc McNulty, Raymond Grewal and Tanner Lishchynsky, or forwards - Brock Hirsche, Caleb Belter, Troy Bourke, Jari Erricson and Chase Witala.
Prince George goals: Tate Olson (2), Brad Morrison (1), Jake Mykitiuk (1), Joseph Carvalho (1) and Jarret Fontaine (1).
Red Deer goals: Jesse Miller (1), Dexter Bricker (1) and Connor Bleakley (1).