The Prince Cougars open the 2013-14 season tonight (7 p.m., CIRX 94.3 FM) in Portland against the Winterhawks, who will take time before the start of the game to celebrate the WHL championship they won in a six-game final series over Edmonton last May.
"When you go into another team's building that's going to raise some banners you want to make sure you put on a good showing," said Cougars head coach Mark Holick. "They're the defending champions and they've got a lot of guys back from their team and they're well coached. We're going to have our hands full for sure."
From Portland, the Cats travel to Everett, Wash., to play the Silvertips on Saturday, then it's on to Kennewick, Wash., for Sunday night's game against the Tri-City Americans.
The players boarded the bus Wednesday, resigned to the fact there's no escaping long trips when the closest opposition rink is in Kamloops, six hours away.
"We don't want travel to be an excuse, that's what we do," said Holick. "We're a little further north than other teams and that to us is not going to be an excuse or any distraction. We travel, and we'll make sure the guys get rested and fed along the way."
n Cougars forward Troy Bourke is expected to rejoin the Cougars in Everett. Bourke has spent the past two weeks in the NHL training camp of the Colorado Avalanche. He was given 6:50 of icetime in the Avs' 2-1 preseason loss to Anaheim Wednesday night in Denver.
Cougars forward Zach Pochiro is still with the St. Louis Blues.
n The Cougars host the Kamloops Blazers in their season opener next Friday, Sept. 27.