Last Updated on Saturday, 21 December 2013 08:53
Cariboo Cougars head coach Bryan MacLean didn't really know what to expect when Steven Jandric showed up at the Cariboo Cougars training camp this year.
After spending last season in Quebec, MacLean said Jandric was a bit of a wildcard this year - but a few months into the season MacLean can't help but be impressed.
Just days after Jandric was named the BC Major Midget League player of the month, the Cougars forward was listed by the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks.
"It's really cool getting listed by them, (Cougars GM and Winterhawks scout Trevor Sprague) talked about how great an organization they are," Jandric said. "It should be fun if I decide to go that route."
It didn't long for Jandric to re-adjust to the B.C. style after playing midget triple-A in Quebec last year and he was quick to credit his teammates generally and his linemates specifically for helping get off the hot start this season. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 24 games and his 31 points have him tied for the Cougars scoring lead with linemate Jesse Roach.
The two have developed chemistry, but MacLean said no matter the line combination, Jandric has shown the ability to make his teammates better.
The offensive numbers speak for themselves, but Jandric said one of his big goals this year is to develop into an all-around player.
"I need to keep working on my (defensive) zone coverage and getting the puck out quicker," he said.
His coach has taken notice, describing Jandric as a 200-foot player.
"He's an offensive guy, but he takes a lot of pride in working hard," MacLean said. "He wants to be on the penalty kill, he wants to be on the power play, he wants to be in every situation."
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:11
The Cariboo Cougars got a warm welcome in Fort St. James on Saturday night and didn't disappoint the crowd with a thrilling 3-2 win against the Greater Vancouver Canadians.
Jesse Roach scored twice, including the winner with just 1:17 to go in the third. Colton Thomas aslo scored for the Cougars as the BC Major Midget League team moved its home game up Highway 27 to the Fort Forum due to a city labour dispute in Prince George.
Braeden Gurney and Scott Munro replied for the Canadians.
With the game knotted 2-2, Roach won a face-off in the Cougars end and three Cariboo players quickly broke out on a 3-on-1 break. Steven Jandric drew a defender to him and then fed Roach who beat Canadians goalie Tyler Shugrue.
For the Cougars (9-12-2) the victory snaps a six-game winless streak dating back to mid-November.
The Cougars never trailed and held a 2-0 lead heading into the final stanza.
The Canadians (11-11-1) scored twice early in the third to tie the score, first Gurney scored after some miscommunication in front of the Cougars net then Munro was johnny on the spot when the puck took an unexpected bounce off the end boards.
Jeremy Matte preserved the points for the Cougars stopping Owen Siedel on a breakaway and then making another big save as the Canadians had a 3-on-1 rush with two minutes to play.
Roach opened the scoring just over 11 minutes into the first when he converted right off a face-off in the Canadians end. His unassisted tally came mere seconds after the Cougars were given their third power play of the period.
Earlier in the frame Cariboo had a two-man advantage for 1:28, but the Canadians successfully killed that one off.
Thomas extended the Cougars lead to 2-0 late in the second when he banged a rebound past Shagrue.
Jeremy Matte came up big in net in the second, his biggest save coming off the stick of Kyle Uy from point blank range. Joshua Murphy had the best opportunity for the visitors when a bounce off the end boards fooled Matte, but with the Cougars goalie out of position, the Canadians forward as unable to convert.
Greg Dakus had a great chance for the Cougars midway through the second, but Shagrue got his pad over in time to make a toe save at the side of the net.
The Cougars and Canadians are two of six teams separated by just five points in the tight middle section of the BCMML standings. Heading into the weekend the Canadians led that group with 23 points, good for fourth overall. The Cougars, sitting on 18 points were in eighth place.
The Cougars closed that gap on Saturday and will look to bring the two teams even closer on Sunday morning.
The two teams will be back in Prince George on Sunday to conclude the weekend set at 10 a.m. at CN Centre.
Last Updated on Sunday, 15 December 2013 03:50
Jeremy Matte was strong between the pipes and Colton Thomas picked up his second goal and fourth point of the weekend as the Cariboo Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak with a 1-1 tie against the Valley West Hawks.
Thomas, who scored once and had two assists in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Hawks, scored the lone goal for the Cougars on Sunday morning at the Langley Sportsplex. With the tie Cariboo now has a 12-8-2 record in the BC Major Midget Hockey League. The Hawks drew for the first time this season and are now 15-6-1 on the year.
The Cougars wrap up a six-game road trip with an 0-5-1 record and will be very much looking forward to returning home next weekend when they host the Great Vancouver Canadians for a pair. Saturday's game at CN Centre is set for 4:15 p.m. with the rematch on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Last Updated on Sunday, 08 December 2013 23:13
Kamloops Blazers defenceman Josh Connolly will be on the ice at CN Centre on Dec. 23 as the Cariboo Cougars renew an an annual holiday tradition.
Connolly will be among the nearly two dozen graduates of the Cougars program to return for the alumni game.
“It’s fun going back, playing with some of the guys you played with, playing with the new guys,” Connolly said. “I enjoyed it last year and it should be fun this year as well.”
Connolly has fond memories of the time he spent playing for his hometown team in the BC Major Midget League. He said his time with the Cougars helped him prepare to take the next step in his hockey career.
“It’s really like the Western Hockey League, practice a lot, you work out a lot and it’s a good level of hockey,” he said.
In particular Connolly credits the Cougars coaching with helping him improve his play in his own end, something of upmost importance for a player at his position.
In 42 regular-season games over two seasons with the Cougars, Connolly had 13 goals and 29 assists. But some of his favourite experiences came during visits to the Mac's Midget AAA tournament in Calgary.
“The playoff run was pretty cool and I made a lot of friends," he said.
Connolly had a lot of success on the ice with the Cougars and that carried over to last year when as a rookie he helped the Blazers reach the WHL's Western Conference final. This year Connolly is taking on a bigger role on the ice with a Blazers team in rebuilding mode.
"I know our team isn’t as strong as last year, but I’m playing a ton,” he said. “Hopefully our team can start winning and make the playoffs, that would be a really good goal for us.”
Come Dec. 23 at 7 p.m., Connolly and the other players in the Cariboo Cougars alumni game can put aside all those concerns about their club teams, reconnect with old friends and have a good time on the CN Centre ice.
Among the other players who will suit up are:
Ryan Howse F
Alex Roach D
Seb Lloyd F
Tyson Witala F
Chase Witala F
Jake LeBrun F
Jordan Duncan F
Justin Duncan D
Liam Blackburn F
Braiden Epp F
Linden Martell F
Tanner Fejstrom F
Raymond Grewal D
Stephen Penner D
Harjas Grewal F
Chase Astorino F
Shaun Cormier F
Chris Allbee F
Nick Headrick D
James Morrison G
Jared Rathjen G
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:43