Cougars add brawn to their lineup

Most of Mike MacLean's opponents look up to him. Considering he's six-foot-seven, that's a pure and simple fact.

The mountainous MacLean became a member of the WHL's Prince George Cougars on Monday. The 20-year-old forward, who carries 234 pounds on his lengthy frame, was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds along with 16-year-old defence prospect Sam Schoenfeld and a conditional draft pick.

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In the trade, Seattle picked up 17-year-old forward Keegan Craik, chosen by the Cougars in the fifth round (98th overall) in the 2016 bantam draft. The Thunderbirds also got a fifth-round selection in the 2019 draft.

MacLean, from Penticton, split last season between the T-birds (38 games) and the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Not surprisingly, he's expected to add a physical element to the Cougars' lineup.

"MacLean is a big, physical winger who's a late bloomer and someone we think still has a lot of untapped potential," said Cougars general manager Mark Lamb in a media release.

Seattle general manager Bil La Forge said on the Thunderbirds website that MacLean was the victim of a numbers crunch.

"Mike has been a valued contributor for the T-birds who has really developed with us in the last year," La Forge said. "But with only three 20-year-old spots available we had to make a move. With this trade we were able to find a team for Mike to continue playing in the WHL. We are excited to add Keegan as he is a player who will add depth to our team."

In his time with Seattle last season, MacLean had two goals, two assists and 42 minutes in penalties. In five playoff games, he added a goal and an assist.

This preseason, MacLean has one goal and one helper in five games.

Schoenfeld, meanwhile, attended Seattle's training camp and, according to the team's website, "had an impressive showing." Last season, he skated in 32 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Elite 15s and put up one goal and eight assists. At six-foot-three and 180 pounds, he already has good size. Schoenfeld's hometown is Calgary.

Craik, from Brentwood Bay, appeared in two games for the Cougars in 2017-18 and was held without a point. As a member of the Delta Hockey Academy, he registered 13 goals and 29 points in 27 games.

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