Losing has become a broken record in Cougarville

In the 25-year history of the Prince George Cougars there have been some lengthy winless droughts but never have they been spitting sand so long ever since they made that turn into the Sahara Desert of the Western Hockey League.

This is uncharted territory and nobody seems to have a compass to lead them to their oasis.

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They've gone a team-record 17 games without a win - unprecedented in their time since the team arrived in Prince George from Victoria in 1994.

The Cougars have had some tough years, like the 1995-96 season, the year they moved into the building formerly known as the Prince George Multiplex. They lost 10 straight that fall and it cost head coach Doug Hobson his job. Cougar fans were showing up for games wearing paper bags over their heads and their team lost five more until Hobson's replacement Dale Marquette finally found the win column.

The Cougars duplicated that 15-game losing streak in 2010 with Dean Clark at the helm, a losing streak that started Feb. 12 and ended on March 12.

Twice, in 1996 and 2011, the Cats went winless in 13 games and they even went through a 10-game stretch without a win in October 1996, the year they had Zdeno Chara and company on board for their first trip to the Western Conference final.

But never has it been this bad. They haven't won since Jan. 12, when they beat the Kelowna Rockets 4-0 at CN Centre and their slide cost Richard Matvichuk his job when he was fired Feb. 6.

Tonight in Kamloops, the Cougars have a chance to end it, but they'll be taking on a Blazers team they've yet to beat in six tries this season. All were regulation losses except a 3-2 overtime decision Jan. 20 in Prince George.

During their 17-game slump the Cougars have gained just four points, three from overtime losses an one from their 5-4 loss in a shootout to Victoria last Saturday.

After the Everett Silvertips handed them a 4-1 defeat Monday afternoon, the Cougars lost the rematch Tuesday night at CN Centre against the Tips by an identical score. But it was a much-improved performance for the Cougars in the eyes of interim head coach and general manager Mark Lamb.

"I thought we played so much better (Tuesday) than we did (Monday). I thought we took a step back (Monday) and a step forward (Tuesday), but it's the same result," Lamb said.

"We're playing the young players in important situations where sometimes they have success and sometimes they don't but it's an experience they've got to go through, whether it's positive or negative."

Cougars goalie Taylor Gauthier had one of his better games Tuesday and was picked as the second star after he made 32 saves. The Cougars also had 20-year-old defenceman Joel Lakusta back in the lineup for the Everett series after he missed eight games with a concussion.

Lamb likes what he's seen lately from the Jackson Leppard-Tyson Upper-Josh Curtis line, which has been effective in both ends of the ice. While they've haven't been scoring much, neither has the team, and that trio has generated plenty of quality chances the past few games.

"I think they're a good example of how our team has to play and how we should be playing and a lot of our guys should watch how that line plays and how they compete and if they use that as an example some positive things will happen," said Lamb.

Kamloops (22-28-4-1) is just three points behind Seattle for the second wild-card playoff spot. The Cougars (16-35-4-2) are 13 points back of the T-birds and have just 10 games left.

The Cougars play Saturday night in Everett.

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