Just wait until next year.
Yes, that's the last thing fans of the banner-starved Prince George Cougars want to hear. And it's not meant to suggest that those same fans should abandon all hope for the remaining portion of the 2012-13 Western Hockey League season. It's more a comment on what's coming down the pipeline.
That would be super-slick forwards Brad Morrison and Jansen Harkins.
Morrison made his home-ice debut in Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win against the Regina Pats and drew attention to himself every time he was on the ice. The 15-year-old Prince George product scored his first WHL goal in the second period when he fought his way to the front of the net on a power play and deflected home a point shot by Dallas Ehrhardt. The fact Morrison was even standing at the top of the crease to score the goal was commendable. The kid is listed at five-foot-10 and 150 pounds and that's probably when he's wearing all of his equipment, including skates and skate guards. But he went to that often-painful spot on the ice anyway and got the reward.
The game was the second of the maximum five Morrison is permitted to play as an underager this season. His first was in Kamloops last Saturday and he picked up an assist in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Blazers.
Cougars head coach Dean Clark has already seen enough of Morrison that he played him on the top line with Alex Forsberg and Ryan Hanes in Tuesday's game. As well as getting power-play time, Morrison also saw action in overtime and got a tap on the shoulder for the shootout (as the third P.G. shooter, he missed high on goaltender Matt Hewitt).
Now Morrison wasn't perfect -- his lack of size and strength resulted in him getting pushed off the puck quite a bit and he also made a handful of plays that resulted in the Pats taking over possession -- but he showed enough raw skill that Cats followers should be rubbing their hands with glee that he'll be a full-time player next season. Morrison is a great passer, as Forsberg will attest to, and he's also not afraid to shoot. He tested Hewitt a number of times on Tuesday and forced the Regina goalie to make some quality stops.
Not to put any undue pressure on Morrison, but he could be the next hometown talent to blossom into a WHL star. The names Nick Drazenovic and Brett Connolly come to mind. All three players were first-round bantam draft selections -- Morrison seventh overall in 2012, Connolly 10th overall in 2007 and Drazenovic 11th overall in 2002.
For what it's worth, Morrison also has hockey bloodlines. His dad, Doug, was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the second round, 36th overall, in 1979. Doug went on to skate in 23 NHL games and had an 11-year pro career. Then there's Morrison's older brother, Curt, who played five seasons of junior A hockey with the Prince George Spruce Kings and Spruce Grove Saints.
As a rookie member of the Major Midget League's Cariboo Cougars this season, Morrison has six goals and 18 points in 14 games and is improving with each passing week.
And don't forget about Harkins. He's in the same league, with the Vancouver Northwest Giants, and has recorded five goals and 26 points in 13 contests. The Cougars chose him in the first round, second overall, in the 2012 draft.
In a potential preview of what's to come in Camp Cougar, Morrison and Harkins have already been teammates and were major contributors for B.C. when it won its first-ever gold medal at the Under-16 Western Canada Challenge Cup a few weeks ago in Calgary. In the gold-medal game against Alberta, they combined for eight points in a 9-3 victory.
So yeah, 2013-14 will be fun.
And the years to follow?
With Morrison and Harkins as the cornerstones of skill, the Cougars will have every opportunity to build a winning team around them.
Maybe even a championship one.