With a playoff spot locked up, the Cariboo Cougars get a chance to test themselves against the BC Major Midget League's best this weekend.
The Cougars make their debut in the newly renovated Kin 1 arena on Saturday night and welcome the league-leading Okanagan Rockets as the inaugural guest.
"We've got some free hockey now and I think it's great for the guys too take a breather," Cougars head coach Bryan MacLean said.
But with just two points separating the 17-17-2 Cougars with both the Vancouver NE Chiefs (17-15-4) and Greater Vancouver Canadians (18-18-2), the Cougars can still climb the standings over the final two weeks of the season. The Cougars enter the weekend in sixth place, but fourth place and home ice advantage is still within reach.
"We've got to keep plugging along here and get as many wins as we can and finish as high as we can," MacLean said.
To climb the standings, the Cougars will need to nab points either from the Rockets this weekend or the Vancouver NW Giants next weekend, two teams involved in their own battle for the BCMML regular season pennant. Both squads have identical 29-5-2 records.
"The road to the championship is going to go through either Okanagan or Vancouver, they've been at the top of the league all along," MacLean said. "It's not an easy task [these next two weeks], but at the same time we've worked really hard too and done some really good things this season, especially after Christmas."
The weekend kicks off at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday with the annual Jameson Jones cancer charity night. The team will be honouring children who have overcome or are battling illnesses and will be collecting donations to help a local family with medical bills for their daughter with cancer.
The set wraps up on Sunday morning at 10.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 05:23
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 18:51
Cariboo Cougars goalie Lane Delfs got a taste of what hockey is like at the next level this week when he suited up as an emergency backup netminder for the WHL's Portland Winterhawks.
With Brendan Burke out with an illness and an injury, the Winterhawks were in need of someone to backup Corbin Boes for the second half of their midweek visit to Prince George. Delfs got the call on Tuesday morning and attended the WHL team's practice later that day.
"It was extremely exciting," he said. "It kind of just came up, I had no idea it was coming. It was really nerve-wracking, but at the same time it was a very good experience."
Delfs said getting a chance to see how he measured up against players from one of the top teams in the WHL was invaluable.
"It's good to go up a level and see what you're up against with those bigger guys and their harder shots," he said.
Delfs also had the chance to chat with Boes and get some tips on how to raise his game to the next level.
While he didn't see any action in Portland's 6-4 win, Delfs said the game day experience wasn't too different from what he's used to at the major midget level, but the more extensive opposition scouting at the WHL level was noticeable.
"There was a lot more preparation as the guys went over the other team player by player," he said.
This weekend Delfs is back with the Cariboo Cougars as they make the long trek to the play back-to-back games against the North Island Silvertips.
The Cougars are looking to clinch a playoff spot with a pair of wins and build towards making a post-season run.
"We've got to stay mentally prepared both days and keep a good mindset," he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 18:42
The Cariboo Cougars completed a weekend sweep of the North Island Silvertips on Sunday morning with a 6-1 win in Courtenay and clinched a playoff spot to boot.
Jesse Roach and Steven Jandric each scored twice as the Cougars climbed back to the .500 mark at 17-17-2 on the year. Bryan Allbee and Colton Thomas also scored as the Cougars won of the third time in their last four games.
The Silvertips fell to 11-20-5 and have a precarious hold on the final playoff spot.
Lane Delfs picked up the win in net on Sunday on the heels of backstopping the team to a 3-2 win on Saturday.
The Cougars are guaranteed to be among the eight playoff teams in the BC Major Midget League, but their final placing will depend on their results over the final two weekends of the season.
Cariboo hosts the league's top two teams, Okanagan and Vancouver Northwest, the next two weekends. This Saturday at 7:15 will be the first time the Cougars will get to play on the Olympic size ice in the newly renovated Kin 1. Stay tuned for more details on a special evening planned for the first game in our home arena.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014 03:00
The Cariboo Cougars are looking to lock up a playoff spot this weekend as they head out on the road for their final trip of the regular season.
A pair of wins this weekend against the North Island Silvertips will clinch a post-season berth for the Cougars.
"We want to make sure we can solidify a playoff spot as early as possible and we can that this weekend so we want to make sure we get it done," head coach Bryan MacLean said.
The Cougars, 15-17-2 on the year, enter the weekend in sixth place in the BC Major Midget League. The Silvertips, 11-18-5, are clinging to the eighth and final berth.
After splitting its games during each of the past two weekends, Cariboo is looking to get maximum points out of its Island visit and build some momentum as the playoffs approach.
MacLean said his team needs to do a better job of levelling out the peaks and valleys that occur over the course of a game.
"We've got to be consistent for 60 minutes," MacLean said, noting a mid-second period let down cost the team a chance for a weekend sweep last weekend against South Island. "We can't have that happen, we need to be mentally strong when we get scored on. The other team is working hard to score goals too, so you need to accept the fact when it goes in the net and keep plugging away."
After this weekend the Cougars host the league's top two teams, Okanagan and Vancouver Northeast, the final two weeks of the season, so clinching a playoff spot now is important.
"For us it would be nice to solidify it heading into the final two weekends because then you get some free hockey out of that," MacLean said. "You can work on some stuff and not play with a lot of pressure against those teams and you might gain a bit of confidence going forward."
The Cougars and Silvertips meet on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. in Alberni Valley and on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. in Courtenay.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 06:46