Hockey Day in Canada
by Adam Vickers, Sports Editor
This year, Prince George had the great opportunity of participating in what should be a national holiday; the yearly hockey day in Canada run by Hockey Night in Canada. The event featured a full day of Canadian hockey teams playing from coast to coast. In Prince George, the match up included the Prince George Cougars and the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. The Cougars have had a rough season, facing numerous injuries to their line-up, and the Oil Kings have tons of talent with seven players drafted in the top 50 in recent NHL Drafts. One of those draft picks include defencemen Griffin Rienhart, who represented Canada in the recent World Junior Hockey Championships. The night before match up during Hockey Day in Canada, the Cougars suffered a tough loss to the Oil Kings (8-0).
Heading into the Stadium for Hockey Day in Canada, the Cougars had free toques for those who attended early enough, as well as a puck-throwing contest in the second period. Free toques were not the only draw to the game, as former Vancouver Canuck goaltender Kirk Maclean was signing jerseys before the game. Maclean drew a large crowd, as the line to get autographs trailed nearly the whole way down the one side of the interior stadium behind the stands. All set for the face-off, the game began with a quick goal by the Oil Kings, reminding fans of the previous day’s follies. The Cougars were quick to respond finishing the first period 4-1. The Cougars looked good to start the game, showing that they would not repeat the performance of the previous night. The second start was much like the first with the Oil Kings scoring a quick goal; the Cougars rallied to score two more goals to bring the score to 6-2 entering the third period. Winger Tom Fiddler would complete his hat trick in the second period that saw a flurry of red toques, free from entering the game, were thrown to the ice celebrating the Cougars goal. In the third period, the Cougars gave up their 6-2 lead, forcing overtime in a game that should not have come close. Overtime solved nothing, so the Cougars and the Oil Kings went to a shootout where the Cougars would ultimately fail to score and allow the Oil Kings to pull away with a gutsy win. The Cougars may have lost, but it was a great sight seeing the stadium resemble the crowds of old when players like Dan Hamhuis, Dustin Byfuglien, and Devin Setigouchi showcased their talent. Hockey Day in Canada for Prince George would end in disappointment for the home team but if anything it was a great hockey game and a great atmosphere.