Cariboo Cats making noise

After two convincing wins over the Vancouver Northwest Hawks over the weekend it’s becoming more and more obvious the surging Cariboo Cougars are doing all that’s being asked of them by their coaching staff.
How could Tyler Brough and his assistants not like what they saw out of their team on the big rink at Kin 1?
Starting with a 4-2 triumph Saturday night, the Cariboo Cats stomped the Hawks 8-2 in the rematch Sunday morning to keep pace with the B.C. Hockey Major Midget League-leading Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.
“I was pretty impressed with our weekend, I thought our puck possession was dominant,” said Brough. “We’re getting lots of shots on, our power play’s working. For me, the base of this team is just hard work and if we outwork a team we’re going to have success.”
All four Cougar lines got themselves on the scoresheet Sunday. Curtis Hammond, Booker Daniel and Brennan Bott each fired a pair for Cariboo on Sunday. Grady Thomas and Lane Goodwin also scored. Hayden Gelbard and Trenym Confortin were the only Hawks shooters to beat goalie Devin Chapman, 17, making his second start since joining the Cougars from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
“He definitely brings a calming influence back there,” said Brough. “He’s played at the higher level – not a lot of shots but some pretty good quality shots at the end of that game and he stood tall for us.”
Goodwin, Daniel, Fischer O’Brien and Brendan Pigeon took care of the scoring for the Cougars Saturday, while Brendan Buhr (with a deflected shot that hit the ceiling before it went into the net) and Liam Hudson were the Hawks’ marksmen.
Xavier Cannon notched the win in net. Cannon spent time in the BCHL with the Spruce Kings last week, filling in as backup, and he played a few minutes at the end of the game for the Kings Friday against Langley.
“(Cannon) adds that calming presence back there and when our team breaks down they make saves for us,” said Brough. “It’s a deadly combination (in goal) in my opinion and with the way we’re going, we’re happy right now.”
Pigeon, a 17-year-old from Williams Lake, has jumped into the top-10 in the league scoring race, playing on a line with Thomas and Brett Fudger. Pigeon was the Cougars’ choice as the inaugural winner of the team’s Hard Hats and Hockey Sticks award as the hardest-working Cougar in the month of October, while Bott was chosen for the award for November.
Pigeon collected a goal and an assist Saturday and was held to one assist Sunday.
“We had a bit of rough start to both games (allowing the first goal in each) and we just bounced back and played hard,” said Pigeon, who leads the Cougars in scoring with 15 goals and 27 points in 20 games.
“My linemates are giving me the puck and I’m shooting everything I can.”
The Cougars were the hottest team in the league in November, putting together a 6-1-1 streak that got them on the list for their 14th-straight appearance at the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary, which starts Dec. 26. The only blemishes in the month came when they travelled to Richmond to face the Greater Vancouver Canadians, Nov. 17-18 – a 2-2 tie followed by a 3-1 loss.
“They outworked us and it cost us a weekend and I think the group learned from that,” said Brough. “We’ve outworked the teams we’ve played the last two weekends and we’re moving up in the standings.”
The Cougars have two more league weekends before the Mac’s. They’ll be in Langley and Delta this weekend against the Valley West Hawks, then host the T-birds in what could be a battle for first place, Dec. 15-16 at Kin 1.
“They swept us when we played them down there so that will be a good test before Mac’s,” said Pigeon. “I went there last year and it was definitely a fun tournament. If we just compete like we have done, we’ll be fine.”
• The Cougars raised $2,200 for the Canadian Cancer Society Saturday through their annual Pink in the Rink promotion.

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