by Allan Bristowe
January 31, 2014, Prince George (ISN) – The Cariboo Cougars moved into sixth place in the BC Major Midget League standings last weekend and coach Bryan MacLean believes there’s still room to grow.
With a 13-15-2 record the Cougars head into this week just six points back of the Greater Vancouver Canadians, with two games in hand and MacLean said pushing to finish as high in the standings is important as playoffs approach.
“It’s about just going as high as we can,” MacLean said. “If it’s sixth it’s good, if it’s fifth it’s great and if it’s fourth it’s even better.”
The Cougars certainly don’t want to slip any lower in the rankings as a seventh- or eighth-place finish would mean a first round date with either the Okanagan Rockets or Vancouver Northwest Giants, the two teams who have been the cream of the BCMML crop this year.
The Cougars have a chance to get back to .500 on the season this weekend as they head to Nelson to play the last-place Kootenay Ice (4-21-5), but MacLean cautioned that the Ice beat the Cougars in Prince George in the fall in one game and held them to a tie in another.
“They came up here and took three of four points from us in the fall, so by no means should we take these guys lightly,” he said.
MacLean said the team put its best foot forward last weekend with a pair of convincing wins over the Thompson Blazers as the Cougars continued their strong play in 2014.
Including this weekend’s games against the Ice, the Cougars have six straight games against teams currently below them in the standings, but then finish the year with back-to-back weekend sets against the Rockets and the Giants.
“The next six games are huge, but from the first time I saw the schedule I was really happy that we’re playing those two teams at the end of the year,” he said. “If we can get on a run here and get some confidence then get against those two teams, we’re going to be peaking at the right time.”
The Cougars and Ice play in Nelson on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and again on Sunday at 10:15 a.m.