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Cougars one win away from regular season Western Conference throne

The Prince George Cougars just need one more win to leave the 2023-24 regular season as the west’s top team.

This is thanks to a 9-2 win in Kamloops last night, coupled with a Portland Winterhawks overtime loss to the Tri-City Americans.

After a slow start to the game, the Cougars exploded for 6 unanswered goals in 10 minutes (between 12:27 of the first period and 1:55 of the second period) on Kamloops’ rookie goalie Logan Edmonstone.

In his final home game as a Kamloops Blazer, 20-year-old Jordan Keller beat Ty Young 3:55 into the second period, before the Cougars scored three more times to lead 9-1 after two periods.

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The Blazers had the third period’s lone goal, the final score ending 9-2.

Prince George outshot the Blazers 43-36 and were 1/2 on the powerplay, 2/2 penalty killing.

Ty Young made 34 saves for Prince George.

You can find the boxscore here.

The Cougars’ record improves to 48-15-1-3 (16-0-1-1 in their last 18), which means they have cracked 100 points in the standings for the first time in franchise history.

The Cougars came into the game knowing they’d need to pile on the goals to help win the race for first place in the west with the Portland Winterhawks.

Prior to puck drop, if both Prince George and Portland won their five combined remaining games this weekend against non-playoff teams, they would have ended the season tied in points, wins, and wins head-to-head – meaning goal differential (goals for minus goals against) would have been the next tiebreaker to determine who finished first place.

Prince George had two games to play, Portland had three to play and the Winterhawks had a +4 goal differential lead on Prince George.

This hypothetical tiebreaker situation is no longer top of mind, however.

Despite outshooting Tri-City 52-14, it was the Americans who would come out on top of Portland 4-3 in overtime.

This means the most points Portland can end the season with is 101 – while a win tonight would put the Cougars at 102 and clinch their first ever 1st place finish in the western conference.

It is the final game of the regular season for Prince George, once again against the Kamloops Blazers but this time at home.

The Cougars are expecting a sold out CN Centre tonight, the team is holding its third Mega 50/50 draw of the season with a guaranteed $50,000 jackpot and will be wearing their special black retro jerseys for the occasion.

If the Cougars were to win tonight, it would lock in a first round playoff series against the Spokane Chiefs and guarantee home ice advantage through at least three playoff rounds.

Regardless, the Cougars open the playoffs at home on Friday and Saturday (March 29 and 30).

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