General Manager Todd Harkins announced the Cougars have acquired forwards Ilijah Colina (00) and Connor Bowie (01), along with a first-round WHL Bantam Draft selection in 2020, second-round selections in 2018 and 2019, a third-round selection in 2020, and a conditional sixth-round selection in 2019 from the Winterhawks.
In exchange, the Cougars have traded Captain Dennis Cholowski (98) and the playing rights to goaltender Ty Taylor (99) to Portland.
“Dennis is a great kid, who came in here this season and blew us away with his character and leadership qualities,” said General Manager Todd Harkins. “He’s one of the most exciting players to watch in our league and he’s getting a great opportunity in Portland.”
Today’s trade is one Harkins says will have a lasting impact on the Cougars, “We’re not only getting two players we believe will make an impact going forward, but these draft picks over the next three years will help set this team up for years to come.”
“Dennis is a very special player and already carries himself like a pro,” said Head Coach Richard Matvichuk. “His attitude and commitment to his team and teammates is second to none and I can’t wait to see him in the NHL with Detroit.”
Cholowski was named the Cougars’ 23rd Captain in franchise history earlier this season, and was second in team scoring with 13 goals and 39 points in 37 games. He led the team in assists (26), plus / minus (+9) and power-play assists (15). The Langley, BC, product was sixth in scoring among WHL defencemen and second in goals and eighth in assists. Cholowski suited up for Team WHL at the CIBC Canada – Russia series in Moose Jaw and Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and was one of 32 invitees for Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp in December.
Cholowski was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the first-round, 20th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft, and signed with the Cougars in August 2017. He was the Cougars tenth-round pick, 200th overall, in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.
“I really enjoyed my time with such a first-class organization, said Cholowski. “From the coaches, front office, my teammates to the community, it’s been a fantastic experience and an honour to be the Captain. I’ll cherish my time in Prince George and the lasting memories I made here.”
Ilijah Colina is in his second season in the WHL and was ninth in scoring on the Winterhawks roster, with three goals and 15 points in 37 games, including notching three power-play goals. The right-handed shot centreman had 12 points in 46 games last year in his rookie campaign. The skilled forward put up impressive numbers in Midget, finishing third in scoring on the Valley West Hawks in the BC Major Midget League, with 52 points in 32 games. Colina, who hails from North Delta, BC, was the Winterhawks eighth-round selection, 171st overall, in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
“Ilijah is a very dynamic, skilled centreman, who’s tenacious on both sides of the puck,” said Harkins. “He’s got great vision, a natural play-maker and someone we’ve watched for quite some time and he’s always been near the top of his age group.”
Connor Bowie (Boe-ee), 16, is currently playing in the Northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League (NAMHL) with the NEBC Yukon Trackers. Bowie leads the Trackers in scoring with 20 goals and 35 points in 18 games and is tied for the league goal-scoring lead. He had 22 goals and 34 points in 28 games last season with the Trackers. He had an impressive pre-season with the Winterhawks, picking up a goal and four points in five games, before being returned to the Trackers.
“Connor has the prototypical power-forward makeup and is a centreman and has shown to be a proven goal-scorer at the Bantam and Midget levels, commented Harkins. “We believe he can make an impact at this level, playing down the middle”
Bowie has northern roots, as he’s from Fort St. John, BC, and has played his entire minor hockey career in the Peace Region.
The Cougars conclude their four-game home stand tonight against the Vancouver Giants at the CN Centre at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the TicketsNorth box office at the CN Centre, or online at www.ticketsnorth.ca
-Prince George Cougars