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Cougars Name Team Captains

PRINCE GEORGE, BC- The Prince George Cougars named their team Captain's for the upcoming season during a team meeting last night at the CN Centre.

20 year old forward Eric Hunter, last season's team MVP, has been named team captain while Brett Robertson, Nick Drazenovic, Ty Wishart, Jared Walker, Kalvin Sagert, and Greg Gardner will all share assistant captain duties.

Robertson, Drazenovic, and Wishart will wear A's on the team's black jerseys, while Walker, Sagert, and Gardner will wear A's on the team's white jerseys. The Cougars will wear their black jerseys at home for the first half of the season, before sporting their white jerseys at the CN Centre after Christmas.

"It was extremely difficult for our coaching staff to only select three assistant captains. We have more than enough qualified candidates, and as a result felt our core leadership responsibilities needed to be shared within this group", states Head Coach Mike Vandekamp.
 

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Hobson Returns to Spokane

Chief forward Adam Hobson has returned to Spokane after spending a week at the Chicago Blackhawks pro-camp. The four-year veteran will be in Spokane's line-up this Saturday night when the Chiefs open the regular season in Cranbrook, BC versus the Kootenay Ice.

Hobson was the Blackhawks seventh round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and was attending the camp for the second year in a row. "It is nice to see the caliber of players," Hobson said. "They are the best of the best and you get to see how close you are, but at the same time see how much work you have to put in to get there."

One of the players that is already "there" is former Chief Matt Keith, who Hobson roomed with at camp. "Nice to stay with him, he showed me around a little," Hobson said.

Keith, who has played in 22 games in the NHL the past two full seasons, will try to stick with the Blackhawks this season, his fourth in pro- hockey. "There's always going to be a battle for positions," Hobson said about Keith's status. "He realizes that but I think he has a good chance."

Through camp Hobson also had the chance to see first hand the new standards on hooking and holding that the NHL and American Hockey League have used the past year. "When you're there, you get to see and know exactly what the rules are and learn the techniques and how to play it."

With a different definition on how a defensive player can use their stick, the game should open up for the likes of Hobson. "In the corners it is going to be easier for me to take the puck to the net without the hooking and holding," he said.

Hobson also recognizes how it will open the game for his roommate and the Vancouver Canuck's first round selection, Michael Grabner, "With is speed, it will help a lot."

During his stay in Chicago Hobson had the chance to communicate with Spokane's leading goal scorer from a year ago while Grabner was in Vancouver, "I have talked to him a little bit and sounds like he is doing well. He scored a couple of goals in main camp and is rooming with their captain, Markus Naslund, and excited about that."

With Hobson's return, just Grabner and Sean Zimmerman (New Jersey) remain at pro-camps.

Mike Boyle will go on the air on KJRB 790 the Fan on Saturday night at 5:30 with the play-by-play beginning at 6:00.

The Chiefs will begin the home portion of their schedule on Saturday, October 7th versus the Tri- City Americans. Tickets for all home games are available by calling the Chiefs office at (509) 535- PUCK or TicketsWest at (800) 325-SEAT.
 

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Cougars Acquire Forward

PRINCE GEORGE, BC- The Prince George Cougars have acquired 17 year old forward Jordie Deagle ("Dee-gull") of the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for Tyler Gron and a conditional 3rd round Bantam selection in 2008.

The 6'0", 187 lbs. product of Lethbridge, AB, skated in 5 pre season games with the Tigers this season. The former 1st round Bantam selection of the Tigers registered 2 goals and 4 assists.
 

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Tigers Trade Deagle To Prince George

Medicine Hat, AB - Medicine Hat Tigers announced this afternoon 17-year-old forward Jordie Deagle has been traded to the Prince George Cougars.

In return, the Tigers will receive 17-year-old centerman Tyler Gron and a conditional 3rd round bantam selection in 2008.

Gron is a native of Spruce Grove, AB and currently playing with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
 

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Kelowna Rockets

2005-06 record: 46-22-1-3

Coach: Jeff Truitt

Player to watch: C Chris Ray

With the largest turnover of players in years, expect the Rockets to be young and raw, but a talented group in 2006-07.

Veteran leadership should come from the club’s three overage players: centre Chris Ray, and blueliners Clayton Barthel and Kyle Cumiskey, assuming all three return from their respective NHL camps.

Kris Westblom takes over as the No. 1 man between the pipes after the trade of Derek Yeomans to the Seattle Thunderbirds during the off-season.

The robust Luke Schenn, 17, a gold medal winner at the world U-18 championship this past summer, will join Barthel and Cumiskey on a predominantly inexperienced defence.

The Rockets will employ five 16-year-olds, including Evan Bloodoff, a high-scoring winger who had 32 goals last season in junior B. His older sibling, Lucas Bloodoff, 17, acquired from the Tri-City Americans, will also be expected to provide some offense to make up for the loss of such players as Justin Keller, Blake Comeau and Tyler Spurgeon.

Veteran centre Clayton Bauer, 19, will be counted on to ramp up his offensive numbers from the 14-goal, 28-point effort in 2005-06.

Head coach Jeff Truitt and his staff will be working with a younger team all across the board and can expect some glitches along the way. Still, the Rockets bench boss assures it won’t lower expectations on or off the ice.

“It might be a little bit different of a team, but we’re still expecting all of the guys to show they can create that intensity we’ve had here for the last few years,” said Truitt, starting his third season as the head man in Kelowna. “There’s a tradition here we want to keep going.”

The Rockets are coming off four straight 40-win seasons, which included two Western Hockey League titles and a Memorial Cup. Living up to those standards will be a tall order in 2006-07 as the organization builds for the future.
 

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Kamloops Blazers

2005-06 record: 34-33-2-3

Coach: Dean Clark

Player to watch: G Michael Maniago

The Kamloops Blazers accomplished a couple of firsts last year that are anything but desired by any club.

For the first time since 1981, when the club moved to the Tournament Capital from New Westminster, the team did not make the WHL playoffs.

And in the 2005-2006 season, Kamloops was first overall in B.C. Division and second in the entire league — in penalty minutes, with 1,688.

With the WHL following the National Hockey League in instituting a crackdown on obstruction this year, power-play goals will be as common as playoff games once were in Kamloops — which is why the Blazers will need to focus on discipline and patience as much as deking and passing.

Dean Clark, who will continue in his role as general manager and coach after firing head coach Mark Ferner in mid-season last year, has vowed to make the changes necssary to compete in the new WHL.

On the ice, Kamloops’ fortunes may well rise or fall with veteran forwards Matt Kassian and Reid Jorgensen, and venerable blueliners Ray Macias and Victor Bartley.

European import Juuso Puustinen may also prove to be a game-breaker, as the winger’s skills and natural chemistry with veteran Brock Nixon showed in the preseason.

The biggest change will be seen between the pipes, with the departure of stalwart starter Devan Dubnyk, who is trying to secure a spot in the Edmonton Oilers’ system.

That leaves the starting gig to Michael Maniago, an 18-year-old Calgary native who compiled a record of 7-7-2-2 last year with an 89 per cent save percentage.
 

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Vancouver Giants

Last year’s WHL champs return 20 players from last year’s squad, so talent and cohesion shouldn’t be an issue.

And as an added bonus, the Giants have already sewn up a spot in the Memorial Cup, since they’re the host squad. The challenge for Vancouver bench boss Don Hay will be keeping his team focused during the long season.

“We know we’re going to end up in the Memorial Cup,” Hay said. “It’s how we’re going to go about getting there that’s been important to us. We put together a real solid year last year and learned how to have success, and it’s important that we keep those ingredients together. We want to go through the front door.”

The Giants are returning plenty of players, but they’ll be missing several key pieces from their championship squad. Superstar centre Gilbert Brule has moved on to the Columbus Blue Jackets, while physical captain Mark Fistric and offensive-minded Paul Albers will be sorely missed on the blueline.

“The fun thing about junior hockey is that every year people step up and fill new roles,” Hay said. “We feel we’re going to have people step up.”

Centre Tim Kraus averaged better than a point per game last year (52 games, 54 points), and the Giants are hoping he can stay healthy after an injury-plagued campaign. Young forwards Spencer Mahacek (23 goals, 22 assists, 45 points) and Michal Repik (24-28-52) will also be counted on to up their numbers from last year.

On the blueline, veteran defenders Brendan Mikkelson and Cody Franson will be asked to carry much of the load.

Between the pipes, Dustin Slade returns after a stellar 2005-06 season where he set records for all-time playoff shutouts (6) and shutouts in a single year (17).

2005-06 record: 47-19-0-6

Coach: Don Hay

Player to watch: G Dustin Slade
 
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