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HomeNewsFunk breaks a record, closes in on another as Cougars ease past...

Funk breaks a record, closes in on another as Cougars ease past Seattle

If there is one thing Mark Lamb wants to fine tune ahead of the post season for the Prince George Cougars, it’s discipline.

Despite dominating the Seattle Thunderbirds for a second straight night on the scoreboard, Lamb stated the team’s lone blemish in Tuesday’s 5-1 win in front of 2,359 fans at CN Centre was the eight power-play’s the visitors were awarded.

“I thought we had control of the game, but penalties can turn a team upside down especially with the 5-on-3’s late even though we had a pretty big score. Those are costly penalties that can turn a game around in the playoffs.”

“There is always a debate on good calls and bad calls, but you must play disciplined. You can’t put yourself in the situation to take a penalty 5-on-3 especially in games like that but we were lucky we had some cushion. Those are penalties you can’t take no matter if they are not or if you think they are you still must do the right things.”

Penalties aside, the Cougars got off to another hot start offensively led by the uber-talented trio of Terik Parascak, Zac Funk and Ondrej Becher, putting up a combined nine points.

Riley Heidt kicked off the offensive fireworks at 3:04 of the first period on the power-play accepting a cross-ice feed from Becher, beating a sprawled Scott Ratzlaff for a 1-0 edge.

Seven minutes later, Funk notched his first of two in the game as his backhand shot bounced off the Thunderbirds goalie Ratzlaff and into the net.

After a Sam Popowich (Seattle) power-play marker trimmed the deficit to 2-1, Carlin Dezainde stormed right back 25 seconds later accepting a behind-the-back feed from Heidt and rifling a slapshot past Ratzlaff.

Funk then surpassed Chase Wheatcroft for the most power-play goals in a Cougars single season as his 23rd on the man-advantage was tallied at the 10:48 mark of the second period, courtesy of a Hudson Thornton pass.

Funk, who roomed with Wheatcroft after being acquired from the Calgary Hitmen at the 2023 WHL Trade deadline told MyPGNow.com that his good friend and former teammate gave him a few pointers on how to relax a little more in games.

“He told me to just enjoy things. It’s your last year and you want to enjoy it so that is what he emphasized and I took that to heart as well coming from a guy that has done what I did. That was my goal coming in was to have a great year and that is what I wanted to do.”

In addition, the 20-year-old from Coldstream B.C. has a CHL leading 53 goals on the season and is one away from tying the Cougars record for most goals in a season set by Quinn Hancock who put up 54 in 1997-98.

Like Wheatcroft, Lamb believes Funk’s has all the tools in the toolbox to earn a pro contract sooner than later.

“They are good players, and they were kind of under the radar so to speak and were highly touted guys that hadn’t put it altogether yet in their careers and that happens a lot. It’s the last year and you get in a good situation, which both those guys were, and they excelled.”

“You put it altogether and he’s (Funk) got good players to play with too. Chemistry means a lot for players and finding the right spots and the right fits and he certainly found that here.”

Parascak added to the Cougars lead in the third period with his second of the contest and 32nd of his rook campaign. The 17-year-old top prospect from Lethbridge, Alberta also cracked the 80-point plateau with 12 games remaining in the regular season.

Prince George outshot Seattle 36-21 and went 2-for-3 on the power-play while the Thunderbirds were 1-for-8.

RAVE-ON

Tuesday’s victory also marked the seventh win in the last eight starts for Josh Ravensbergen who continued his dream rookie season between the pipes, inching ever closer to becoming the team’s starting netminder.

The 17-year-old from North Vancouver, who is not eligible to be selected until the 2025 NHL Draft improved his record to 21-4-0-1 on the campaign with a goals against average of 2.13 and a save percentage of .920.

Both rank third among WHL goalies trailing fellow rookie Evan Gardiner of the Saskatoon Blades and Portland Winterhawks workhorse Jan Spunar.

“He’s a really good goalie and he is not hiding anywhere anymore. He is out there and is one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best goalie. We feel we have two good goalies, but he has really done well,” added Lamb.

In April of 2023, Ravensbergen put pen to paper with the Cougars after a stellar two-year run with the Vancouver North West Hawks U17 and U18 programs in the BC Elite Hockey League.

He led the entire U18 league in wins with 15 and posted a 2.10 GAA. In addition, Ravensbergen won a U17 championship with the Hawks in 2021-22.

While Ravensbergen seems to have the inside track to be Cougars starting netminder from here on out – the 17-year-old admits he is not reading his own press clippings – even with six shutouts to his name already.

“It’s been a lot of fun throughout the whole year trying to get enough rest and keeping myself healthy. A lot of it is because of the players in front of me that makes my job a lot easier,” said Ravensbergen post-game to MyPGNow.com.

“I always believed I would be a WHL goalie even after not getting drafted. It made me really mad and pissed off about that but that kind of helped me and opened my eyes on how to work in the summers.”

You could say Ravensbergen was bound to be a Cougar given his close working relationship with the late Sean Murray who worked with him extensively in the Lower Mainland and was also employed by PG as their goalie coach from 2016-2018.

Murray passed away on Remembrance Day.

“He helped me a lot. I would do on-ice sessions with him every week and when I wasn’t drafted, he would talk to the scouting director from the Cougars and got me listed with PG. So, he is the reason why I am here and am thankful for all he has done for me.”

The Cougars hit the road for a two-game road trip Friday and Saturday against the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets.

PG (38-15-0-3), who is unbeaten in their last seven games in regulation sit atop of the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips with three games in hand.

However, the Portland Winterhawks, who sit third, are two points back of the Cougars with two games in hand.

PG is back on home ice March 1st and 2nd when they welcome the Spokane Chiefs.

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