Cougars’ dynamic duo continue to turn heads on path to NHL Draft

In their own words, Riley Heidt is a playmaker while Koehn Ziemmer is a power forward.

Together, the pair have brought a lot of eyes to the Prince George Cougars this season.

With 15 games left in the regular season, both Heidt and Ziemmer sit in the top 10 of WHL scoring; Ziemmer has 31 goals and 72 points to rank seventh while Heidt is a point behind with 21 goals.

“My whole game has matured and [I have] as a person too,” Heidt said last month at the 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. “I’m way more comfortable now and I’m a leader on my team.”

Both players will have their names called early at the 2023 NHL Draft later this year; NHL Central Scouting has Ziemmer ranked as the 20th ranked North American skater while Heidt is 26th.

With a combined 143 points between them, the timing couldn’t be better.

“With Riley, it’s great to have a guy to go with, compare yourself to,” Ziemmer said. “We’re both having a pretty good year.”

Both players got their start during the WHL’s shortened 2020-21 season where teams played just 24 games due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prince George won just nine games but with no playoffs in sight leaguewide, both Heidt and Ziemmer saw ample ice time as rookies, a move that kickstarted their development with the 2023 NHL Draft in mind.

“The bubble was a once in a lifetime thing,” Ziemmer said. “But I think that helped me. Going into it, no playoffs at the end of the year so our coach gave a little more leeway for our young guys and played us lots so we got the opportunity.”

The pair excelled in their sophomore campaigns; Heidt’s 58 points bettered Ziemmer by one while the latter hit the 30-goal mark as the Cougars made the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

This year, alongside Chase Wheatcroft who sits fourth in WHL scoring with 75 points, they have the Cougars over .500 and tied for the fourth best offensive club in the league with 211 goals.

Heidt’s 50 assists are the sixth most in the WHL while he is one of 13 skaters to have taken more than 1,000 faceoffs. Ziemmer sits 11th in goals and 10th in power play markers while the duo have each recorded 32 points on the man advantage this season.

The Cougars have seen 41 players selected in the NHL Draft and that includes four first-round selections, the most recent of which was Brett Connolly in 2010 (sixth overall).

It will be second straight year the Cougars have seen a pair of teammates drafted as the clubs two goalies, Tyler Brennan (NJ) and Ty Young (Van) were selected last year.

With the profound focus on the WHL’s Draft class, that includes Zach Benson, Andrew Cristall, Connor Bedard and Brayden Yager, among many others, Heidt and Ziemmer are an integral part of what will be a historic draft class for the league.

“The ’05 class, it’s pretty cool,” Ziemmer said.

“I don’t know what will happen when I hear [my name called] but it’ll be overwhelming [with] all of the hard work I’ve put in,” Heidt added. “It’ll be emotional for sure.”

Heidt and Ziemmer are in action tonight on TSN 4 when the Cougars visit the Vancouver Giants at 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm PT.

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