Citizen Article - Feb 3 - Pregame

Citizen Article - Feb 3 - Pregame

Joined: August 26th, 2004, 5:31 am

February 3rd, 2006, 3:36 pm #1

PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN

by JIM SWANSON
Citizen Sports Editor
One worn cliche in particular is ringing true in Cougarville these days — it truly is more fun to come to the rink now than it has been in recent years.
As the Prince George Cougars prepare to take a run at leap-frogging the defending WHL champions this weekend, there is no question the rosier circumstances surrounding the Cats have had a positive effect on the atmosphere in the bowels of CN Centre.
“We’re believing more, and we’ve proven that we can play with everyone,” said centre Nick Drazenovic, whose team takes to the ice tonight against the Kelowna Rockets, looking to make up the two-point edge the Rockets have on the Cougars.
“It’s a better feeling going into a weekend like this when you know you can take the two games and be ahead of Kelowna. You hear it all the time, but when you’re winning it is more fun and the atmosphere is much lighter.”
It is a perspective not lost on the veterans. Three long winters in a row yielded nothing more than last-place finishes, and the competitiveness of the B.C. Division indicates this Cougars team is, even for how well it has been playing, one losing streak away from sliding to that spot again. It’s the cruel reality of a team with 11 more wins than losses but still a long way from having a playoff spot sewn up.
“A lot of pressure falls on (the veterans), and you can see with our leaders in the way they handle themselves that they’re proud to be on a winning team,” said Drazenovic.
Assistant coach Stew Malgunas chalks it up to a maturity, the likes of which he hasn’t seen from a Prince George team in his three-plus years on the bench.
“Last year was desperation, this year we’re more relaxed — hockey’s a lot more fun when you’re winning than when you’re on the cusp of disaster,” said Malgunas, who has yet to be part of a WHL playoff game as a coach.
“In my coaching and playing career, I’ve been on the outside looking in at times and it’s a horrible feeling, struggling like that. Everyone’s mad and down all the time.
“We have our eye on Kelowna and we’re only eight points out of first, and who knows what could happen if we went on a winning streak here. Guys like Hunter, Nick, Walker and Featherstone, and I could name more, really have a passion that has been rekindled. They look hungry, they have that look in their eyes.
“There’s a lot more focus than I’ve seen here before. We don’t have any bad seeds, guys we have to be checking curfew on constantly. I think if someone ever missed curfew I think it would be taken care of in the dressing room before (the coaches) had to.”
The optimism does dissipate when the topic of injuries comes around. To their credit, the Cougars have been battling through an horrific string of problems — Andy Rogers, Jesse Dudas, Dan Gendur, and now Evan Fuller and Ty Wishart are out of the lineup. The three-game winning streak, matching the ride Kelowna is on, is the epitome of making the best of a bad situation.
Wishart is listed as questionable for the weekend’s games, the result of a hit in Tuesday’s game in Vancouver. He’ll have to get the doctor’s clearance to suit up.
Malgunas will have to wisely distribute the icetime, getting the right players on the ice while not overworking the horses — Devin Featherstone, Kalvin Sagert and Curtis Cooper.
“You can’t have any bad matchups and you can’t get your inexperienced guys out there against their top lines,” said Malgunas.
“Being at home (and having last change) helps. Featherstone and Sagert will have to play every second shift, no doubt about that, and they know that. But you know what? A guy like Ray Bourque did that all the time, and Chris Pronger does it now. I know when I played, I wanted to be out there every second shift, or I’d be upset. They’re in good shape.”
Malgunas spoke Thursday about how Curtis Patterson stepped up and played his best hockey to date against the Giants, and that converted winger Kirk Meaver and rookie blueliner Chris Vanduynhoven now have to be ready for the challenge.
The Cougars won’t have winger Jamison Orr around this weekend. He’s returned to the BCHL’s Williams Lake Timberwolves, but could come back in the future. Malgunas said Thursday there were no plans to bring in a list defenceman.


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Joined: August 26th, 2004, 5:31 am

February 3rd, 2006, 3:38 pm #2

PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN

by JIM SWANSON
Citizen Sports Editor
Perhaps more than anyone involved in the whole equation, Stewart Malgunas is the most qualified to talk about the attendance woes that have taken over the conversation with the Prince George Cougars and their fans.
Born in Prince George. Raised in Prince George. Former minor hockey and Spruce Kings player, a P.G. Sports Hall of Fame inductee who went on to a long pro career, including NHL duty. And now, of course, an assistant coach in his third season with the Cougars.
For Malgunas, the building is half-empty — not half-full. The low crowd counts have left a lot of folks wondering what the initials P.G. stand for — Prince Grudge, or Petty George?
“It’s disappointing,” said Malgunas.
“It’s hard to say this without getting (in trouble) either way, but people asked for the team to come out and play hard. That was the knock when I first got here, people said there was no discipline. Changes were made there. Fans wanted a competitive team, now they have that, and it’s time for the people of Prince George to step up to the plate, if you ask me, and prove that you’re hockey fans. The economy is good, and I think the town can proudly support two teams.
“People can choose to go on with their hate, but these kids are giving it everything they have for this town, and to see as many green seats as I do is embarrassing, I think. For the past month or so, the talk has been nothing but positive, people wanting to get more fans in the seats.”
The hockey side is going so well with the team 11 games over .500. The non-hockey side is certainly lagging behind — the Cougars are averaging 3,070 fans through 27 home dates, and Prince George is the only city in the WHL where attendance is down this season. Included in those crowd counts is a Jan. 4 game against Kelowna when the smallest paid attendance in the building’s WHL history, 2,453, showed up for a 5-3 Cougars win.
“I’m from here, and (head coach Mike Vandekamp, a Fort St. John native) is from the north, too,” said Malgunas.
“Growing up, we used to think the Mohawks hockey was just the best, and we always went to the Spruce Kings games. We’re lucky to have WHL hockey here and it would be a sad, sad time for Prince George if they let this team go. We have nine home games left in the regular season, and then the playoffs, for people to come support us. It would be so great to see the rink filled and it would give our team an extra boost.”

[url=mailto:canucklechucker@hotmail.com][/url]
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KBF
KBF

February 3rd, 2006, 8:25 pm #3

Talk about major pressure from management, trying to force people to come watch. Ridiculous.
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P.O.d
P.O.d

February 3rd, 2006, 9:38 pm #4

"Pressure from management" and "trying to force people to come and watch"? I guess you can't understand the pride thing since you're from Kamloops but I, for one, am totally embarrassed by the lack of support for a good hockey team who has a very respectable record and whose players are dedicated to winning, give it 110% game in and game out. I'm beginning to question Prince George as a hockey town. I was once proud to be part of the hockey communtiy here but I really have to wonder if there is one now, although the half full crowd is a good, loud and supportive one (cheers to them!). We're getting down to the wire with our boys and it would be a shame to watch it all slip away, just because some people hold a grudge or whatever it is that keeps them away. I know what a difference the full house can make. Remember the glory years, where our barn was the most intimidating place to play and every team knew it! What the hell happened? And no...don't cry about Brodsky or any of that other crap that everyone seems to want to use as an excuse. You either want good hockey or not at all, it's as simple as that!
As for you, KBF, I acknowledge that I'd rather see Kamloops make the playoffs than Kelowna, or Vancouver or Kootenay for that matter, because I am sick of their arrogance. But don't come on this board and question our coachs intentions or our communtiy pride, which you are totally unqualified to discuss. Stew is a hometown boy and I'm with him on everything he said because I believe it comes from his heart.
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prospera
prospera

February 3rd, 2006, 9:43 pm #5

Talk about major pressure from management, trying to force people to come watch. Ridiculous.
your just reading their site but their management has alot at stake. you can only go so long on low attendance in the business world. that one sentence that there was only 2500 fans in attendance when kelowna played and brodsky is from kelowna??? bottom line ....do hockey fans in pg want the team to move>
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Jimi
Jimi

February 4th, 2006, 5:03 pm #6

Talk about major pressure from management, trying to force people to come watch. Ridiculous.
A Hockey Town. The majority of people aren't staying away because there's no beer in the stands, or because they don't like the in-between period entertainment, or beause the game starts at 7:30 instead of 7:00. From the "misinformed" fans, as Brodsky calls us, at work, from the depths and passion of their negative it's clear that they still care very deeply about the Cougars! They have a problem with supporting an organization that has either been unable, or not committed to, winning a Memorial Cup, and being a perennial cellar dwellar. This is like a great relationship between two people ('94 - '99?)which has ended because of betrayal and broken trust: how do you go about rebuilding that trust?
Mr Brodsky may take it for granted that everyone believes his goal is to win a Memorial Cup. He said recently on PGTV that he is committed to a "successful" hockey club. That could mean a hockey club that generally plays over .500 hockey and gets 4500 fans per game. There's a big difference between being "successful" and being committed to win a Memorial Cup, which has to take an inproportionate amount of dollars and resources to go the extra mile to build a Divisional winner, let alone Memorial Cup winner.
If winning a Memorial Cup is Mr Brodsky's goal then he should have no problem publicly stating it and making a public committment to the club and the City of Prince George. If he is sincere in acknowledging past mistakes affirming future committment, and the club continues to build on the already positive changes, there will be a lot more people joining those of us who go now, in the stands!
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Anonymous
Anonymous

February 4th, 2006, 5:26 pm #7

Well if you dont go to the games because there is no beer you should check yourself into rehab and thats BS ... you dont go to a dam game to watch the intermission crap. 730 is when the games start like a half hour makes a huge difference. We need to forget about it and supprt those boys. We need to talk ABOUT HOCKEY not fans and brodsky and all that BS. If you dont like deal with it

Go COugars
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Joined: January 7th, 2006, 9:12 pm

February 4th, 2006, 7:46 pm #8

it's time to talk hockey. Lets start with our power play and why the coach continues to say that we have to start capitalizing on our power play chances but yet tell's us they don't practice this important part of the game. I have noticed that there never seems to be right handed shots on the power play which if i were defending against makes it easier to do so. You only have to worry about a one timer coming from one side of the ice so you are able to force the puck the other way and still have time to recover. Having a mixture of both left and right shots also gives our boys more options and might have us on the other end of these one goal games
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UrbanStar
UrbanStar

February 4th, 2006, 8:10 pm #9

Well if you dont go to the games because there is no beer you should check yourself into rehab and thats BS ... you dont go to a dam game to watch the intermission crap. 730 is when the games start like a half hour makes a huge difference. We need to forget about it and supprt those boys. We need to talk ABOUT HOCKEY not fans and brodsky and all that BS. If you dont like deal with it

Go COugars
I agree, let's get off the REASONS WHY and focus more on the hockey. At the game last night, I can say the three that impressed me the most was our 20 year olds. Zimmer... hits are incredible to watch - he uses his body time and time again, Featherstone...truly an amazing work horse and brings his strong work ethic game in and game out and Patterson, poured it on last night and was all over the ice - his unselfishness in setting up his teammates - he is just a smart hockey player. These three guys put their hearts and souls into last night's game and are true leaders, you cannot ask any more from them. Each one of these individuals have different roles to play on this team and the younger players, hopefully are learning alot from them.
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COOGSUPERFAN
COOGSUPERFAN

February 4th, 2006, 8:12 pm #10

it's time to talk hockey. Lets start with our power play and why the coach continues to say that we have to start capitalizing on our power play chances but yet tell's us they don't practice this important part of the game. I have noticed that there never seems to be right handed shots on the power play which if i were defending against makes it easier to do so. You only have to worry about a one timer coming from one side of the ice so you are able to force the puck the other way and still have time to recover. Having a mixture of both left and right shots also gives our boys more options and might have us on the other end of these one goal games
a question for you. EXACTLY how many right handed shots does this team have? And how many are qualified to man the point? When you can answer that, you will have the answer to your own question. And yes of course it's a problem but what can anyone do about it? Tell Featherstone to shoot left because he is already so flexible in his abilities?
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