The Prince George Cougars were trending in the right direction as of March 7 when they finished the home portion of the 2019-20 schedule.
However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic picked up the pace in Canada and the United States and nearly a week after the Western Hockey League (WHL) put the regular season on pause, a decision was made today (March 18) to cancel it altogether and keep the possibility for playoffs alive.
This means the Cats won’t play their final six games for a chance at grabbing the last spot in the postseason by virtue of the Seattle Thunderbirds maintaining a seven-point lead as of Wednesday, March 11, ending the campaign on a three-game winning streak.
“The Prince George Cougars fully support the decision made by the WHL, as we take the safety of our players, fans, staff and community very seriously,” reads a Cougars’ team statement.
Players were sent home this past weekend, including graduating athletes Josh Maser, Ryan Schoettler and Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who will now move on to the next chapter of their hockey careers.
Prince George concluded its season with a 62-game record of 20-34-4-4; they were one of two teams in the WHL with six games left on the calendar.
Thirteen of those wins came on home ice amongst a 13-17-2-2 stint at the CN Centre.
Captain Maser won his team’s season scoring title with 48 points, one back of his career-high 49 from 2017-18, and potted the most goals with 29.
Aside from one game, the Houston, B.C. product played his entire major junior career with the Cougars, notching 90 goals and 143 points in 217 contests.
Schoettler recorded the most assists for Prince George this year with 31 to go with a career-high 34 points this past season.
Cole Moberg led all Cougar defencemen with 37 points in the year after he was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the final round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
He scored the team’s final goal, a 4-3 overtime winner against the Vancouver Giants in the last home game of the year to extend the winning streak.
Goaltender Taylor Gauthier was put to work between the pipes in the shortened 2019-20 season, posting a career-high 1,537 saves, second-most in the WHL, and a 0.917 save-percentage in 50 games.
He was responsible for 16 of the Cats’ 20 wins.
In efforts to flatten the curve on COVID-19, the Prince George Cougars’ front office will also be closed to the public.