Brendan Shinnimin had a pair of goals to lead the TriCity Americans past the Spokane Chiefs 5-3 on Saturday.
SPOKANE, WA – Looking to end their three-game road skid, the Americans needed a big performance from their offensive leaders. Brendan Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman were more than willing to oblige.
Shinnimin scored twice, including one short-handed, while Hughesman chipped in two assists, as the visiting Tri-City Americans (38-14-1-1, 78 pts) skated away with a 5-3 win over the rival Spokane Chiefs (31-17-4-3, 69 pts) in front of 9,819 fans at Veterans Memorial Arena. With the win, Tri-City snapped their season-high 3-game road losing streak, while taking a 5-3 lead in the 12-game season series with the Chiefs. The Americans also ensured that they stayed one point up on Portland in the race for the division’s top spot. Spokane, meanwhile, saw their 4-game home winning streak snapped and fell to 2-2 on home ice this season vs. Tri-City. The two clubs will renew their rivalry a week from tonight in Kennewick.
The Americans benefitted from three power plays in the first period, en route to a 13 to 8 shot advantage in the frame. However, it was the Chiefs that took the initial lead. With 3:18 left to play in the first, Mike Aviani parked in front of Ty Rimmer before redirecting Brenden Kichton’s shot from the right point past the goaltender for his 12th tally of the season.
But, inside the final 10 seconds of the period, the Americans mounted a charge. Playing short-handed following Sam Grist’s interference penalty, Justin Feser forced a turnover and then led a 3-on-2 breakaway. Electing to keep the puck, Feser fired a long-range shot from the right circle that found space over Eric Williams’ shoulder, knotting the game at 1 just before the break. It was the first of three straight Tri-City special teams goals, which allowed them to take control of the contest.
Just past the midway point of the second period, and with Tri-City back on the penalty kill, it was déjà vu for the 9,812 fans in attendance. After pressuring Kichton, Shinnimin forced a turnover and carried the puck into the Chiefs’ zone all alone. From nearly the exact same spot as Feser’s goal earlier, Shinnimin gave the Americans a 2-1 lead with his 5th short-handed marker of the year. Then, five and a half minutes later, and this time on the power play, Shinnimin put back a Hughesman rebound to make it a 2-goal lead after 40 minutes of play.
But, only 3:25 into the third period, the Chiefs pulled to within one following a short-handed goal of their own. After the puck got caught in-between Feser’s skates, Dylan Walchuk worked the puck free and skated in 2-on-1 with Liam Stewart. Walchuk eventually fed Stewart, who finished the rush with his 8th goal of the season.
As the game neared the midway point of the third, and clinging to their one-goal lead, the Americans watched as Sam Grist scored the eventual game-winner. Despite several nice saves by Williams, the Chiefs were still unable to clear the zone. Finally, Hughesman kept a clearing attempt in the zone, then fed Grist in the high slot, who ripped a shot past Williams for his 3rd goal of the season. After going without a goal in his first 95 games, Grist now has 3 in his last 10 games, along with 5 of his 8 total points on the season.
The Chiefs, though, would not go away, as the climbed back to within one late in the contest. Back on the power play with 5:06 left in regulation, Mitch Holmberg beat Rimmer over his blocker to make it a 4-3 game.
Still trailing by one in the final minute of play, Coach Don Nachbaur pulled Williams for the extra attacker. But, following a save by Rimmer, Shinnimin grabbed the rebound and fed the puck out to Jesse Mychan, who skated over the red line and buried his 9th goal of the season into the empty net.
Despite the score, both goaltenders played well, earning the game’s 2nd and 3rd stars. Rimmer, who finished with 24 saves, earned his 22nd win of the season. Meanwhile, Williams kicked aside 29 shots in the loss, snapping his 4-game winning streak. Tri-City finished the night 1-for-7 on the power play, while Spokane went 1-of-4 on the man-advantage.
Following a day off Sunday, the Americans will begin preparations for a 4-games-in-5-nights stretch that kicks off on Tuesday, February 14 against the Vancouver Giants (32-21-1-2). Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. Tri-City, which is 2-0 vs. the Giants this year, has outscored their conference rivals 16 to 4 this season. Meanwhile, after dropping two of their last three, Vancouver will be looking to snap their five-game losing skid inside the Toyota Center. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including online at ticketmaster.com, the Toyota Center box office, or all Fred Meyer outlets. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
With his 3-point night tonight (2+1), Brendan Shinnimin moved into 6th on the Americans’ all-time scoring list, passing both Dylan Gyori (286) and Stu Barnes (285)…Playing in his 320th WHL game (t-5th all-time), Adam Hughesman recorded 2 assists to move past Terry Degner (195) into 4th on Tri-City’s all-time assists list. Hughesman is 4 assists shy of becoming just the 4th Tri-City player to reach 200 career assists (B. Sakic, Ascroft, Langkow).
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
2, Eric Williams, Spokane
3, Ty Rimmer, Tri-City