New Face, Same Mentality

Prince George, BC, Canada / CKPG News
New Face, Same Mentality

The Prince George Cougars haven’t played at CN Centre for 23 days. That is until tonight. The Cats take on the Victoria Royals, who stroll into town knowing they’re responsible for 75% of the the Cougars’ losses since the start of December.

The Cougars still sit atop the WHL’s BC Division standings, however they fell one spot to 7th in the latest installment of the CHL power rankings.

Cougars left winger Colby McAuley made it clear that the Cats need to be at their best this weekend. “We played alright in Victoria, but it wasn’t good enough.” He continued to say ,”we’re a great team, there is not a lot of teams that can hold up with us when we are at our best, that’s definitely our goal for this weekend, to go out there every shift and play our hardest.”

The Cats shuffled the deck Thursday afternoon, as General Manager Todd Harkins shipped forwards Yan Khomenko, 2014 first round pick Justin Almeida and a couple draft picks to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for high powered Russian forward Nikita Popugaev.  The second year player out of Moscow who is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft was awarded an “A” rating by NHL central scouting.

Popugaev arrived in Prince George this morning and skated at this morning’s optional skate. He will suit up for the Cats tonight as they take on the Royals in the 7th out of 8 meetings between the two clubs.

General Manager Todd Harkins was noticeably excited this morning about his new acquisition. “Nikita can score, he gets the puck on his stick, he can shoot the puck like a laser, he has a nose for the net, and I think that’s something we realize that if we can have another threat in the offence, especially on the power play, we needed to find that player” Harkins said.

Popugaev immediately becomes the team leader in points with 51 in 40 games. “Still getting to know guys better, all the guys are friendly, and I’m glad to be here.” Popugaev continued, “It was a really big trade for both teams, Prince George is a big team right now, and I will try to help them.”

With the WHL trade deadline quickly approaching Tuesday, Harkins is remaining optimistic about the potential of another deal getting done. “I probably get four to six calls every morning and another four to six every afternoon” Harkins smiled. “Guys know that we are buying, and when you’re a buyer they want to get the most from you, so I have to be careful with that especially looking forward with our young talent and draft picks.”

After tonight’s contest, the teams will meet for the final time in the regular season Saturday night at CN Centre.



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