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Cougars nominated for Western Hockey League business award

WHL awards will be handed out May 2
In their 30th season, the Prince George Cougars have been named as B.C. Division nominees for the WHL's business award.

The Prince George Cougars are the B.C. Division nominees for the Western Hockey League’s business award.

An improved marketing strategy spearheaded by  dedicated sales team, combined with the success of the Cougars on the ice as Western Conference regular-season champions, translated into a league-leading 29 per cent increase in attendance.

According to, the Cougars averaged crowds of 3,519 at CN Centre, up from an average 2,766 in 2022-23 and 1,915 in 2021-22, at the tail end of the pandemic.

Season memberships jumped 43 per cent from 2022-23 and now exceed pre-COVID level.

The Cougars completely sold out their 40 loge seats and suites, which remain in high demand with a waiting list for next season.

The team was also recognized for its new game-time events which helped raise fan interest and raise the entertainment value, including Fanboni, Benchwarmers, High-5 Tunnel, three stars presentation, and Junior Cougar feature.

Promotional theme nights also drew crowds including:

Community Heroes Weekend to recognize teachers, healthcare workers, firefighters, RCMP, first responders, wildfire service members, and search and rescue volunteers;

Teddy Bear Toss;

Indigenous Night, featuring 12 First Nations communities and a speciality uniform worn by the team with logo designed by local Lheidli T’enneh First Nation artist Kym Gouchie;

Pink in the Rink, which featured specialty uniforms and 50/50 sales of nearly $145,000 to benefit the B.C. Cancer Foundation in support of cancer research in Prince George;

Retro Night, which re-introduced fans to a nostalgic Cougars brand and jerseys the team wore during the 1990s and early-2000s.

The Cougars 50-50 sales in 34 games combined brought in close to $1 million (up from about $600,00 in 2022-23), with several Mega 50-50 draws proving extremely popular. Community groups that benefited from the Cougars impressive 50/50 include the Prince George Community Foundation, B.C. Cancer Foundation, Salvation Army Foodbank and Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation.

The Cougars also bumped up merchandise sales in a revamped team store at CN Centre and different approach to marketing team gear and souvenirs resulted in increased sales.

The Cougars sales team increased corporate sales by 74 per cent compared to last year.

The business award winner will be announced May 2. The Cougars are up against the Edmonton Oil Kings (Central Division), Saskatoon Blades (East Division) and Portland Winterhawks (U.S. Division)

Nominees for two other WHL award nominees were announced Tuesday, including:

Brad Hornung Memorial Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player)

B.C. Division – Jordan Keller (Kamloops) - Kamloops Blazers
Central Division – Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, Man.) - Edmonton Oil Kings
East Division – Brayden Yager (Saskatoon, Sask.) - Moose Jaw Warriors
U.S. Division – Jordan Gavin (Surrey) - Tri-City Americans

Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy (Humanitarian of the Year)
B.C. Division – Ty Hurley (Sherwood Park, Alta.) - Kelowna Rockets
Central Division – Shane Smith (Cessford, Alta.) - Medicine Hat Tigers
East Division – Evan Gardner (Fort St. John) - Saskatoon Blades
U.S. Division – Tyler Palmer (Fernie) - Everett Silvertips