Future Prospects- WHL Prince George Bantam Cougars: Young Guns Impressive

By Glen Crichton

Prince George may have come second in the Randy Lindros Memorial Tournament, held Nov. 11- 14 in
Kamloops, but their team speed and relentless work ethic was a pleasure to watch. Kelowna, another very
good team in their own right, won in overtime after allowing the Cougars to claw their way back from a 3-1
deficit in the third period, but it was a couple of Prince George kids who really caught my eye. Paul Brown, a
fourth overall pick by the Regina Pats of the WHL in the first round of this years annual Bantam Draft and
Gary Gladue, a third round selection, taken 46th overall by his hometown WHL P.G. Cougars were standouts
all tournament long and led a well coached, disciplined team to within one goal of the tournament
championship. Speedy and slick passing Mark Nelson and Tyler Scofield were another pair of young
Cougars who stood out but it seemed when the chips were down it was Brown and Gladue that took the
team to the next level.

Paul Brown was a highly touted prospect going into the 99 WHL Bantam Draft and ended up going to the
Regina Pats, who must be delighted with their pick if this tournament was any indication of his talents. In
the five games I attended, Paul totalled 3 goals and assisted on seven others and if it weren’t for goal posts
and crossbars could have scored four or five more goals. The tireless captain of his team killed penalties,
played the powerplay and as his point totals attest, is an unselfish player who seems to relish setting up a
teammate for a scoring opportunity as much as netting them himself. This smooth skating, right handed
shooting centerman plays a gritty, physical game without taking stupid penalties, leading one to belive he
will be a leader in the WHL sooner than later. Paul possesses a bullet slapshot, an accurate snap and wrist
shot while having the knack for finding open space to use his arsenal of talent. While cycling down low in
the offensive zone he works hard and never seems to lose track of his linemates so as to be able to find them
with an accurate pass when the chance occurs. The most surprising aspect of his game to me was his
commitment to defence, often being the first player back to help out his defenceman and never giving up on
the back check, traits of a much older player, but also a tribute to his coaching in minor hockey and his
maturity at such a young age. So if you are a Regina Pats fan, look forward to next year, Paul Brown has
can’t miss written all over him.

I attended the P.G. games intent on seeing if all the hype surrounding Paul Brown was for real and ended
up being suitably impressed by a defensive teammate of his named Gary Gladue. Now I never got to see
Paul Coffee skate as a bantam age player, but if he was better than Gladue, it couldn’t have been by much as
this kid was a pleasure to watch come out from the behind the net and fire a tape to tape pass to a forward
on the move or lug the puck up ice. He seemed to dictate the flow of the game with his smooth stride,
skating with such ease that you didn’t notice the speed he carried until he was unloading a shot from the
high slot or looking for a teammate to feed a pass to in the other teams end of the rink. From the point in the
offensive zone he never seemed rushed to make a play, even with a defender in his face and kept his shots
low in order for his teammates to have chance to redirect them on net. In his own zone Gary was physical,
but prefered to rub guys off the puck so as to not get tied up and caught out of postion, however he wasn’t
against labeling a guy who tried to sneak by along the wall or hammer a guy trying to stand in the slot. The
pressure of playing in front of a hometown crowd can be intimidating for a local kid in junior, but if the
Prince George fans allow this kid to develop, they could well have a solid defenceman with a big offensive
upside playing for the hometown WHL Cougars in the next few years and who knows, memories of Eric
Brewer may just flicker in a few fans heads.

Though this team may be led by these two players by no means were they a two man show, P.G. showed a
lot of discipline and worked hard every shift, which is a compliment to the rest of the players and the
coaching staff. Also, congratulations are in order to a hard working, gritty Kelowna team that won the
Randy Lindros Memorial Bantam Hockey Tournament in overtime.