Holick hits road with cougars
Mark Holick was in Prince George for only a few days. Already, he was looking ahead to his first bus trip from his new home.
After completing a CN Centre doubleheader against the Everett Silvertips, the Cougars were preparing for their first road swing with the new head coach. They reached Seattle, Wash. on Monday morning after a moderate, 10-hour overnight bus ride.
The Cougars, who represent the Western Hockey League’s most remote outpost, are used to bus rides. Holick is too.
“Travel doesn’t scare me,” he said on Saturday evening, after the Cougars’ convincing 4-0 victory over the Silvertips. “I travelled with Kootenay too, so our shortest trip was four hours. It’s not a big deal for us getting on the bus.”
The Cougars are south of the border this week for a two-game U.S. Division road swing that began Tuesday evening against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Tonight, they visit the Tri-City Americans.
Saturday night marked Holick’s first win behind the Cougars bench and gave the hosts a weekend split, Everett winning 3-2 on Friday evening. The triumph improved the Cougars’ record to 15 wins, 28 losses, two overtime setbacks and four shootout defeats (15-28-2-4).
Before Tuesday’s game started, the ninth-place Cougars were four points behind the Thunderbirds, who occupy the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. Holick laughed when asked if they were treating it as a must-win game.
“It’s a must effort, I know that. It’s where we want to have a strong effort again, and we’ll let the guys sort it out from there,” he said. “Stay disciplined and manage pucks and stay physical and do what we can around the net and defend well, and we’ll see what happens.”
It’s been a whirlwind week for Hollick, named the Cougars’ head coach on Jan. 23, a day after previous bench boss Dean Clark was dismissed. The day the Cougars made the announcement, Hollick travelled to Prince George from Penticton and managed to catch the majority of their weeknight game against the Prince Albert Raiders, a 3-2 victory for the visitors. He made his Cougars coaching debut two days later.
Hollick was pleased to see the Cougars earn a win in his second game behind the bench. Saturday’s victory was a defensive effort, the Cougars outshooting the Silvertips 39-21, including 17-6 in the third period. Mac Engel recorded the shutout for the home team, his first goose egg of the season.
“We didn’t give up a whole lot. They’re a pretty talented group over there,” Holick said. “They have some young kids who can get that puck around, throw it around pretty good.”
Latvian import defenceman Rinalds Rosinskis had a weekend to remember, with a goal and three assists. He recorded his first WHL goal on Friday and on Saturday, led the points parade with three helpers. Three forwards scored for the Cougars on Saturday, Colin Jacobs leading the way with a pair of goals. Jake Mykitiuk and Zach Pochiro also found the back of the net. Defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt picked up two assists.
Mykitiuk’s tally was his first of the campaign.
“It’s definitely nice to get the monkey off my back,” he said. “Lately I’ve been trying to not focus on it at all and just play a good defensive game and stuff.”
Silvertips goalie Austin Lotz recorded 35 saves in the loss. On the power play, the Cougars were 2-for-5 while Everett was 0-for-5.
“We were blocking shots everywhere, from every which direction and everything I seen was an easy shot from the outside, so the guys did an unreal job keeping them to the outside and eliminating their chances,” Engel said.
After playing the Americans, the Cougars will return home for a weekend doubleheader against the Victoria Royals (Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. at CN Centre).