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Oil Kings come calling

It was a Thanksgiving dinner with plenty of turkey, and Henry Jay Heimlich was nowhere to be found to apply his famous manoeuvre.

It was a Thanksgiving dinner with plenty of turkey, and Henry Jay Heimlich was nowhere to be found to apply his famous manoeuvre.

No matter how you slice it, the Prince George Cougars are still choked about how they choked the last time they sat down for supper with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Oct. 11 in Edmonton.

Leading 6-3 in the third period, the Cats coughed up a colossal fur ball and lost 8-7 in overtime. Dylan Wruck scored the winner with one second left in overtime.

"We've had them on our minds, for sure, after that Thanksgiving debacle we had there in Edmonton," said Cougars assistant coach Jason Becker. "It would be nice to have some payback and come out of it with two wins this weekend.

"We're expecting a good battle and hopefully we play like the first two periods in Edmonton and forget about that third one and play a good three periods."

The Cougars (9-7-1-0) start tonight's game (7 p.m.) ranked second in the B.C. Division, three points behind the Vancouver Giants. The Oil Kings (5-9-0-1) are fifth in the Central Division, having lost eight straight games. They'll play in CN Centre again on Saturday.

Cougars centre Charles Inglis says his team will have to get better at its neutral zone play to have a successful weekend. Scoring goals has not been a problem for the Cats, who still lead the WHL with a 4.1 goals-per-game average, but they're still giving up too many, and that has cost them a pile of points.

"Edmonton is a good team, they're really quick (but) I think their goaltending is very suspect so we have to get lots of pucks to the net," said Inglis. "The main thing is our turnovers in between the bluelines. We have to make sure pucks are in deep and pucks are out at our blueline.

"They scored in that last game with (a second) left in OT and that wasn't a happy bus ride back. This weekend is going to be huge."

The Cougars' trip last week started with a 7-3 loss in Spokane. They followed up with a 2-0 shutout win in Seattle, a 4-3 triumph in Tri-City, then went down in defeat 6-2 in Kelowna.

Tuesday's loss to the Rockets wasn't one of James Priestner's better outings in the Prince George nets. After giving up seven goals in Spokane, Priestner, 19, was replaced for the next two games by 18-year-old Ty Rimmer, who responded with back-to-back wins. That's cast him into a different light with the Cougars' coaches.

"Ty played awesome for us in the States and had two really good games and we were happy with the way he played," said Becker. "James struggled a little bit and as a team we have to regroup and help him out. You can't leave him out there to dry and we have play a little tighter defensively.

"There's always competition going on. At the beginning of the season, James was the guy with experience and he was our go-to guy, but Ty's obviously pushing the envelope right now and it's going to give Dean (head coach Clark) and myself something to think about."

The Cougars have no new injuries to deal with after their last road trip. Forwards Jaroslav Vlach (broken thumb) and Taylor Makin (broken collar bone) will be out for at least another two or three weeks.

On Friday the Oil Kings acquired 19-year-old goalie Jon Groenheyde in a trade from the Kamloops Blazers for 18-year-old goalie Cam Lanigan. Groenheyde, a four-year WHL veteran, has a 1-5-0-1 record in eight games in 2010-11, with a 3.67 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage. Lanigan started his WHL career in 2008 with Edmonton. In 15 games, he has a 4-8-0-1 record with a 3.73 average and a .866 save percentage.