Maser named Cougars' captain

The Prince George Cougars players voted and Josh Maser won the election.
He's now the 25th captain in the Cougars' 26-year Prince George history and if it had been left up the coaches, Maser would also be their choice.
The 20-year-old left winger wore the 'C' for the first time in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers at CN Centre, with Ilijah Colina, Cole Moberg and Ryan Schoettler the designated assistant captains.
"The kids voted on it and it didn't surprise me at all," said Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. "That's why we took so long, we wanted to really let that evolve and see who the captain was and more than that, the leadership group. It was time to pick one and it's nice when the players are on the same page as the coaching staff and it worked out that way. There's a couple of guys who were real close in the voting and they're wearing letters."
The six-foot-two- 207-pound Maser leads the Cougars in scoring with six goals and 11 points in 17 games, coming off a team-leading 30-goal, 42-point season in his third year with the team, which led to a training camp tryout with the New York Rangers.
"I like everything about him, he gives it all," said Lamb. "He's the type of player in our identity that we need to build around. He comes to work in practice every day, he's a hard guy to play against, he leads by example."
For Maser, it's his first captaincy since his atom hockey days playing in his Houston hometown.
"I'm honoured, I grew up watching this team play and to be able to throw on the logo every night is just a privilege and to wear the 'C' is such an honour," said Maser.
"To be the captain of any team is a big responsibility and we have lots of leaders on this team so I'm not alone. I've always embraced a leadership role, especially being a 20-year-old. When I was 17, coming into the league, I always looked to the older guys for leadership, I lived with Sam Ruopp my first year and Dennis Cholowsky and Josh Curtis, all those guys were great leaders."
The Cougars announced Wednesday that Maser's former linemate, right winger Vladislav Mikhalchuk, their leading pointgetter in 2018-19, is returning to the team after starting the season in the KHL in Russia. With just 35 goals in 17 games, the Cougars' offence ranks worst in the 22-team WHL and they're counting on the 20-year-old Mikhalchuk to address their need for more scoring to put themselves into a playoff position after consecutive postseason misses.
"We're not giving up on the season at all, we're going to get better and he's a way to get better," said Lamb. "He was our leading scorer last year and he's going to be a great addition. We know he can play and produce at this level. He'll really help us on the power play.
"It's no secret we have a hard time scoring and we knew that going into the year. These guys that are back, it's not all of sudden over the summer they're going to turn into a 30-goal scorer, we have to build that around here."
Limited by the restriction on import players which allows WHL teams a maximum of two Europeans, to make room on the roster for Mikhalchuk the Cougars traded 18-year-old Czech forward Matej Toman to the Saskatoon Blades for a sixth-round bantam pick in 2020. In 16 games with the Cats, Toman had three goals and three assists.
Mikhalchuk played one game in the Kontinental Hockey League with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and collected one assist in nine games in the Vysshaya Hokkeinaya Liga (Supreme Hockey League) with Torpedo-Gorky of Nizny Novgorrod.
"He's a skill guy," said Maser. "He's definitely more offensive-minded, which is good. That's what we need now is offence and I think Vlad coming back is going to help us a lot. The KHL is a man's league, a professional league, and he's going to bring some more experience back with him and hopefully that translates right to us."
Mikhalchuk was due to arrive in  Prince George today and is expected to be in the lineup Friday at CN Centre when the Cougars host the Victoria Royals.


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