They went three months without their WHL paths converging.
Now they can't seem to get enough of each other.
Tonight in Kelowna, for the fourth time 12 days, the Prince George Cougars will face off against the Kelowna Rockets. The difference this time around for the Cougars is they're coming off a win over the B.C. Division rivals. Their 2-1 triumph Saturday night at CN Centre over the top-ranked team in the country was their first win in seven head-to-head meetings with the Rockets. That could go a long way to instilling the belief around the Cougars dressing room that despite the Rockets' lofty perch atop the standings and stellar 48-9-0-4 record, they can be beaten.
"If you ask any of the guys in the room, they would all tell you that we like playing Kelowna, we think we can stick with them for the most part," said Cougars assistant captain Klarc Wilson. "This year, every game we've played them has been close. We feel we can skate with them and give them a good game every night."
If the Cougars (26-32-3-5) do reach the playoffs, they will likely play Kelowna in the first round. A win tonight would move the Cats into sole possession of eighth place, one point ahead of Tri-City. The Americans are idle tonight and will have four games in hand over the Cougars.
Cougars head coach Mark Holick was not happy with his team's effort in a Friday's 4-2 loss to the Rockets and he made that point clear to the players in the morning meeting before Saturday's game.
"Most of it was preparation, we went into it knowing we could be a lot better than [Friday] night," said Wilson. "Mark's morning chat was pretty inspirational, it got us going. We all want to make playoffs this year and we knew we were two points behind Tri-City. They have a few games on us so we have to start getting points."
Two weeks ago, the Portland Winterhawks ended a six-game Cougars winning streak with a pair of wins at CN Centre and over the last 10 games the Cats are an unspectacular 4-5-1-0. But Holick isn't pushing any panic buttons
"I've liked our game the last couple weeks," said Holick. "I felt we deserved better in the Kelowna game [a 4-2 loss in Kelowna Feb. 14] on that last trip, and we were strong in Portland. The 5-1 score was not indicative of our play. They got a couple power-play goals late and I thought we were real good for 50 minutes of that game."
Cougars forward Alex Forsberg has cleared concussion protocol but won't be ready to play tonight. He's missed 24 games since getting hurt Jan. 3.
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