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Home-ice advantage aids Cariboo Cougars to second-place regular season finish

Major Midget Cats begin BCMML playoffs at Kin Centre this weekend

Another season is in the books for the Cariboo Cougars, who are hoping home sweet home can carry them to another long playoff run.

The Cats finished the 2018-19 campaign second place in the B.C. Major Midget League (BCMML) standings with a record of 27-8-5 and 59 points, only one back of regular season-champion Fraser Valley.

Cariboo swept Vancouver North West this past weekend to lock their playoff position, shutting out the Hawks 4-0 on Saturday (March 9) and following up with a 5-2 beating Sunday morning (March 10).

The Cougars could have claimed the top spot in the league, but unfortunately for them, the F.V. Thunderbirds also won their final two games at home against North Island.

So, this means the northern boys will play all games of their opening playoff series here in Prince George this weekend and they’ll hope to quickly knock off the seventh-ranked Greater Vancouver Canadians.

In Major Midget Hockey, the all playoff series are best-of-three, so first team to two wins moves on.

The Cariboo Cougars posted a 13-4-3 record when they were the designated home team as, while the majority of their games are at the Kin Centre, they played in three different locations all season long.

This included final two games of the season at the CN Centre next door and the BCMML Winter Classic weekend tilts against Vancouver North East in Fort St. James.

Against the Canadians this year, the Major Midget Cats are 2-1-1; the two victories came on home ice Feb. 23 and 24 with a 5-0 shutout and 4-1 win respectively.

The tie and the loss were down in Richmond, so on paper, it appears Cariboo has the upper-hand.

Last year, Cariboo made it all the way to the BCMML Finals and had the chance to win back-to-back titles for the firts time in team history, but were swept in two games on home ice by Fraser Valley

BCMML quarterfinal action starts Friday (March 15), 5:30 p.m. at the Kin Centre; Game Two goes for Saturday (March 16) at 4 p.m., and Game Three, if necessary, will be bright and early on Sunday (March 17) at 10 a.m.

In terms of statistics, Curtis Hammond led the Cougars with 43 points in 40 games, including a team-high 26 goals.

Xavier Cannon led the goaltenders with 12 wins in 21 starts, in which he accumulated four shutouts.

He also recorded this year’s league-best goals-against-average (GAA) at 2.02.