A force to be reckoned with on the ice, the Cariboo Cougars have made it to the finals of the BCMML for the past two years.
Unfortunately for the Cats, they dropped last year’s series against the Valley West Hawks. This year, the club hosts the Telus Cup, but Coach Bryan MacLean says despite recent success, it’s still an uphill battle to get there on top. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves, we have to focus on game one and two, you know it’s a long season, mid April is a long way away and we have to focus on the process,” he said. “We want to be at the top of the league, we want to represent Pacific, we don’t just want to go to the Telus Cup as team hosts, it starts with Game #1 and Game #2 coming up at the end of the month.”
The Cougars tested out newcomers to the team and returning players Saturday with a number of one-on-one battle drills. Star defenseman, Joel Patsey is a leader on the team who has battled hard with the club the past couple of seasons. The 17 year old draft pick of the Prince George Cougars put up 13 points and 54 penalty minutes last season. He’s hungry for another shot at winning the championship and the chance to motivate his teammates to get there again. “It’s just trying to help them out, get comfortable in the league and then we’re just going to help them grow and get them to be the experienced guys next year,” he said. “We’re just trying to pass on what we know in this league and we’ll start winning games and then hope to see how it goes.”
Pre-season action continues Saturday at CN Centre with puck drop on the intra-squad game set for 6 p.m.
The Cariboo Cougars kick off a big pre-season road trip in the interior this Thursday against the Thompson Blazers. On Friday, they’ll visit the Okanagan Hockey Academy. A pair of games on Saturday will see the cats take on the Vancouver North East Chief and the South Delta Hockey Academy. Finally, the action wraps up on Sunday with a game against the Burnaby Winter Club.