The Western Hockey League Prince George Cougars have invited Vernon Vipers goaltender Ty Taylor to Training Camp.
The Cougars were interested in Taylor at the start of the season, after reports of members from the Cougars flew to Vernon to approach Taylor during the Vipers Training camp in August. Taylor was in his first season with the Vipers this season, played in 29 games going 13-12 with a 2.96 GAA
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This is posted in the Prince George Citizen Newspaper:
Cats goalie McBride chooses school over hockey
Ted Clarke / Prince George Citizen
May 11, 2017
Nick McBride has left the Prince George Cougars.
The 20-year-old goaltender informed the team about a month ago he plans to attend university this fall and won’t be coming back to the WHL team for what would be his final season of junior hockey.
"He had some injuries and two years ago he was the WHL’s scholastic player of the year, so school’s a big thing for him - he’s very smart and that’s a positive thing that he wants to move on and get his education," said Cougars general manager Todd Harkins.
"He won us a lot of hockey games in his two years and we were very fortunate to have him. I totally support any player that’s moving on to go to school or play pro hockey, that’s what we do this for. I don’t think there’s one negative thing about it, I think it’s great.
"I’m not too worried about it because we’ve got young goalies and we have Tavin Grant," he said.
The thin goaltending ranks Harkins inherited when he took over as GM three seasons ago was the reason he traded for McBride.The Cougars acquired him in November 2015 from the Prince Albert Raiders for a second-round bantam draft pick in 2017. The Raiders used that pick last week to select forward Jakob Brook.
McBride, a native of Maple Ridge, played 50 games over two seasons for the Cougars and also played 64 games the previous two seasons with the Raiders, compiling a 3.14 goals-against average with a .902 save percentage and three shutouts in his WHL career.
In 22 games with the Cats this past season playing behind 20-year Ty Edmonds, McBride had a 14-5-1-0 record and posted a 3.14 average, .902 save percentage and one shutout.
McBride could not be reached for comment.
With the 20-year-old Edmonds moving on to the University of Lethbridge, Grant, who will play as a 19-year-old next season, appears to have the inside edge on the starting job right now, having been the Prince George Spruce Kings’ starting netminder for most of the 2016-17 season. Grant was thrust into a backup role with the Cougars as a 16-year-old in 2014-15 and played 18 games as a junior rookie that year backing up Edmonds. Grant was the only goaltender on the Cougars’ protected list at the time and was called into service when 19-year-old incumbent Brett Zarowny returned to Alberta to play in the AJHL for the Spruce Grove Saints.
Also on the Cats’ horizon is Taylor Gauthier, the Cougars first-round (10th overall) pick in the 2016 bantam draft. The Calgary native turned in a solid season in his first midget season in the Alberta triple-A league with the Calgary Buffaloes. In 17 regular season games he compiled 2.06 GAA and .925 save percentage and was even better in six playoff games, posting a 1.65 average and .940 save percentage.
The Cougars will also be bringing in 1999-born Ty Taylor to their training camp. Taylor, a native of Richmond, played 29 games in the BCHL for the Vernon Vipers this season. He finished with a 2.96 GAA and .908 save percentage in his first year of junior A.
Cale Elder, who turns 17 in December, is also in the mix. In 24 games this season for the Prince George Mintos midget team he sported a 1.85 GAA and .927 save percentage and also played eight playoff games (2.72 GAA, .913 save percentage).
McBride’s age, as a 20-year-old, might have also been a factor in his decision. The Cougars had 12 other 1997-born players on the roster this year and can keep just three of them to play as 20-year-olds next season. As Harkins pointed out, if McBride changes his mind before the Jan. 10, 2018 roster deadline he could return to the WHL.
"We just know now we can concentrate on the defence and forwards that we have and which ones we have to trade," said Harkins. "He’s just one less we have to worry about because now we’ll just park him on our overage list and we don’t have to deal with him until he wants to come back, if he ever does.
"I’ve talked to some teams in regards to the 18- and 19-year-old goalies that are (available) and there are options for sure, but I’m not going to do anything at this point until we know what’s going to happen with Ty Taylor, and Cale Elder and Tavin Grant and where these guys fit in on our depth chart at training camp."
▪ The Cougars will have either one or two selections in the CHL import draft on Tuesday, June 27. The number of picks they receive depends on whether 18-year-old winger Nikita Popugaev gets picked in the first round of the NHL draft. If that happens, the Cougars will get a second pick.
▪ The Cougars Alumni golf tournament is scheduled for July 14-15 at Prince George Golf and Curling Club.