KENNEWICK, WA – Down 2-0 less than 6 minutes into the game, the Tri-City Americans (40-15-1-2, 83 pts) scored twice less than a minute apart before holding on for a 3-2 win over the rival Spokane Chiefs (31-20-4-3, 69 pts) in front of 5,887 fans at the Toyota Center.
With the win, the Americans snapped their 2-game home losing skid and remain deadlocked with Portland for the top spot in the division. Meanwhile, Spokane lost their fourth straight game and fell to 3-6 vs. Tri-City this season.
In front of a raucous Saturday night crowd, the Americans managed to out-chance Spokane 12 to 4 through the first 20 minutes. But, it was the Chiefs that ran out to a quick 2-0 lead.
Only 5:28 into the contest, and with 11 seconds remaining on their first power play, Liam Stewart parked backdoor on Ty Rimmer, where he was able to capitalize on a Corbin Baldwin rebound. Then, just 19 seconds later, it quickly became a two-goal deficit as Marek Kalus banged in a Mike Aviani rebound for his 17th goal of the season.
But, the Americans picked themselves back up off the mat and started their comeback. Inside the final six minutes of the first period, and just 7 seconds into a power play, Tri-City pulled back to within one. After Patrick Holland won the ensuing face-off, Brendan Shinnimin fired a shot off the pad of Mac Engel that bounced inside the near post and across the goal line. For Shinnimin, it was his 40th marker of the season and gave him a goal in six straight games.
Still trailing by one late in the second period, the Americans’ quick-strike offense came through in the clutch. With 5:05 left in the period, Tri-City needed just 4 seconds of a power play to pull even. Following another face-off win by Holland, Shinnimin finished the play by knocking in Holland’s rebound.
Then, less than a minute later, the Americans pulled ahead for good. Adam Hughesman fed the puck back to Derek Ryckman at the right point. Once he gained control of the puck, Ryckman ripped a shot inside the right post, below the glove of Engel, for the eventual game-winning tally. For Ryckman, it was just his third goal of the season and second as a member of the Americans.
Inside the final five minutes of regulation, the Chiefs thought they had evened the score at 3, only to have the officials waive off the goal after it was ruled that Rimmer was interfered with. Spokane later called time out with 1:15 remaining, opting to pull Engel for the extra attacker, but came away empty handed.
Rimmer kicked aside 19 of the 21 shots he faced to earn his 23rd win of the season. Meanwhile, Engel finished with 31 saves on 34 shots in the loss. The Americans wrapped up the game going 2-for-4 on the power play, while the Chiefs went 1-of-6 on the man-advantage.
After pushing through their four-games-in-five-nights week with a 2-2 record, the Americans will take Sunday off before preparing for a Tuesday night tilt with the visiting Everett Silvertips (16-33-1-8). Game time on February 21 is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. The ‘Tips, which currently sit one point out of a playoff spot, have rolled off 4 wins in their last 6 games. Meanwhile, Tri-City leads the season series 3-1, but has not faced Everett since their 4-0 shutout win at Comcast Arena back on January 7th. 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 2 assists tonight, Adam Hughesman reached 200 for his WHL career. He becomes just the 4th Americans player to ever reach 200 assists with the club…With 2 goals tonight, Brendan Shinnimin stretched his goal streak to 6 games, while moving past Dylan Stanley (114) and into 8th on Tri-City’s all-time goals list. Shinnimin now has 96 points on the season, tying his career-high from last year, and has 299 career WHL points…With 3 assists tonight, Patrick Holland reached the 80-point mark on the year, giving the Americans 3 skaters with 80+ points on the year. It’s the first time since 2001-02 (Eric Johansson, Scott Kelman and Ben Kilgour) that a Tri-City roster featured 3 players with 80 or more points…The win tonight was Tri-City’s 40th of the season, marking a 6th consecutive season with 40 or more wins, including each of Head Coach Jim Hiller’s three years with the club. The Americans had just two 40+ win seasons in their first 18 years as a franchise before the current streak started.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
2, Patrick Holland, Tri-City
3, Corbin Baldwin, Spokane