Catching a draft Lamb’s key to success
Prince George Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb, who took over as interim head coach Feb. 7 when Richard Matvichuk was fired, thinks he can build a championship contender in Prince George, like he helped do in Swift Current, knowing the Cougars have been acquiring young talent and stockpiling high draft choices the past few seasons.
That started in 2017 when then-Cougars GM Todd Harkins dealt D Tate OIson to Lethbridge for a third rounder in 2018 which turned out to be D Ethan Sampson.
The 2018 draft also brought F Blake Eastman (Vancouver’s second-round pick they gave up in the Brad Morrison deal) and F Ty Mueller (Regina’s third-round pick the Pats sent to the Cougars in the Jesse Gabrielle trade).
Harkins pulled off the January 2018 deal that sent D Dennis Cholowski to Portland and that paid off handsomely for the Cougars.
They picked up the Winterhawks’ first-round pick in 2020, second-round picks in 2018 (D Hudson Thornton) and 2019 (D Jaren Brinson) and a third-rounder in 2020. The deal also brought to Prince George F Ilijah Colina and F Connor Bowie.
The Kody McDonald trade in 2018 to Prince Albert gave the Cougars D Rhett Rhinehart and D Austin Crossley and the Raiders’ ninth-overall pick in 2018, which the Cats used to select F Craig Armstrong.
The Cougars also shipped D Josh Anderson to Swift Current before the 2018 deadline to acquire the Broncos’ first-rounder in 2018 (which they used to pick G Tyler Brennan 21st overall) and Swift Current’s first-rounder 2019, which the Cats used this past May to select Keaton Dowhaniuk, considered the best defenceman available in the draft.
Dowhaniuk went third overall after the Cougars sent the second-overall choice to the Winnipeg Ice, who gave up their third-round pick to Prince George in 2020.
The Cats used their own first-rounder this year, fourth overall, to pick F Koehn Ziemmer, who played with Dowhaniuk at Okanagan Hockey Academy-Edmonton.
Next year, the Cougars will have two first-round selections, a second-round pick, and three choices in the third round.
They also have an extra seventh-round choice, acquired the Kjell Kjemhus trade from Moose Jaw.