Jansen Harkins is serving notice he belongs in the Western Hockey League.
The 16-year-old Prince George Cougars rookie had a hand in half his team's net offence Saturday morning at Service Credit Union Place in St. Albert with a goal and three assists as the Cougars opened their preseason schedule with an 8-4 win over the Red Deer Rebels.
Harkins, the second-overall pick in the 2012 WHL bantam draft and a native of North Vancouver, capped the scoring in the third period after helping out on on three other scoring plays.
Tanner Lishchynsky, a second-year defenceman from Saskatoon, contributed two goals and one assist to the Cougar cause. Austin Ferguson, Joseph Carvalho, Carson Bolduc, Tyler Mrkonjic and Slovakian import David Soltes also scored for Prince George. Kirk Bear, Cole Chorney, Brayden Burke and Mason McCarty were the Rebel goalscorers.
"We're obviously happy about the number of goals scored, although it's never a true indication of the team you're playing because they were playing a lot of [1997- and 1998-born players]," said Cougars assistant coach Jason Becker. "Both their goalies were young goalies too and our guys took advantage of some situations and were successful in getting the puck into the net.
"I think the guys were just happy to finally be playing somebody else as opposed to just playing each other."
Shots were 33-22 in the Cougars' favour. Ty Edmonds and Matt Kustra each made nine saves on 11 shots faced as they split the goaltending duties for Prince George. Grant Naherniak started the game in the Rebel nets and after blocking 14 shots was replaced by Rylan Toth midway through the second period with the Cougars ahead 4-2.
"I'm sure our goalies want one if not both goals back that they allowed [Saturday] but it's a different situation going in for just half a game -- each allowed a power-play goal that you don't really take into account," said Becker.
The Cougars went 3-for-7 on the power play. Red Deer converted two of four manpower advantages.
In their second game, the Cougars slipped past the Medicine Hat Tigers 4-1 as Jari Erricson and Jordan Tkatch each potted a pair of goals in a penalty-filled contest Sunday morning. Brett Zaroway went the distance in net for the Cats, stopping 20 of 21 shots. Prince George fired 40 shots on Tigers goalie Zac Robidoux. Both teams were scoreless with the man advantage as the Cougars were 0-for-11 and the Tigers were 0-for-7.
The Cougars will host the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday and Saturday at CN Centre and will wrap up the preseason at home on Saturday, Sept. 14 against the Kamloops Blazers. The regular season starts Sept. 20 in Portland.