The Prince George Cougars would love to trade places with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL standings.
With 13 games left in the season, the Cougars are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, 12 points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds for that second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Rockets, on the other hand, are in a much better situation, holding down the first wild-card berth, two points ahead of Seattle with two games in hand.
But that's not where the Memorial Cup hosts want to be. They'll be the hosts of the four-team Memorial Cup in May and currently are seeded seventh overall in the West, which would mean facing either Portland or Kamloops in the first round of playoffs.
The Rockets are 10 points back of the Vancouver Giants, the third-place team in the B.C. Division, and last week head coach Adam Foote paid the price for the team falling short of the expectations of president/general manager Bruce Hamilton and was fired on Wednesday.
Foote, who took over the team on Oct. 23, 2018 when Jason Smith was relieved of his head coaching duties, had a 24-26-2-2 record and was 48-49-8-4 as a head coach over two seasons when the axe fell. Smith is now the Cougars' associate coach.
Kris Mallette was promoted from his assistant's role to interim head coach and the Rockets went to Victoria last weekend and beat the Royals 3-2 Friday, followed by a 4-3 shootout loss on Saturday.
They have 12 games to try to turn it around before the WHL playoffs begin and will face the Cougars Tuesday and Wednesday nights at CN Centre.
The Cats ended a five-game losing streak Sunday in Kent, Wash, where they defeated Seattle 2-1 in overtime. Cougar captain Josh Maser scored the winner, 4:41 in to OT, his team-leading 24th goal of the season.
The T-birds (23-25-4-3) did gain a valuable point in that game but the Cougars have three games in hand over Seattle. Prince George (17-31-3-4) will host the division-leading Kamloops Blazers Friday and Saturday.
The Rockets (25-26-2-3) are 2-6-1-1 in their last 10 games. The Cougars are 4-6-0-0 in that same span.
Kelowna will have four regulars out of the lineup due to injuries, including RW Liam Kindree (upper body, six weeks), D Sean Comrie (upper body, week to week), C Michael Farren (upper body, week to week) and D Tyson Feist (upper body, day to day). The Cougars are healthy for the third consecutive weekend.
Game time Tuesday is 7 p.m.
© Copyright Prince George Citizen
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