SPOKANE, WA (ISN) – Adam Hughesman scored twice and Brendan Shinnimin finished with 4 points, as the visiting Tri-City Americans (48-17-1-2, 99 pts) skated away with a 4-2 win over the rival Spokane Chiefs (35-23-5-4, 79 pts) in front of 9,234 fans at Veterans Memorial Arena.
With the win, the Americans maintained their one point lead over Portland in the race for the division title with just 4 games remaining. It also gave Tri-City their third straight win overall and fourth consecutive victory over their rivals to the north. Meanwhile, despite their third straight loss, Spokane stayed even in points with Vancouver, as they battle for home-ice advantage in their first round playoff series.
Looking to match the franchise high for road wins in a season (23), the Americans wasted little time in taking an early lead on Friday. Only 4:38 into the contest, and on their first power play of the game, Hughesman put back a Shinnimin rebound for his first of two goals on the night.
Then, with less than a second remaining in the 1st period, and on another power play, Justin Feser fired a shot off from the left point. With Mac Engel unable to control the rebound, Hughesman notched his 43rd goal of the season just before the horn sounded.
But, just 1:41 into the 2nd period, Marek Kalus let a shot go on Ty Rimmer, who watched the rebound kick out into the left circle. There to capitalize was Dominik Uher, who fired a shot past Rimmer, but had it ricochet off the in-goal camera and back into play. Video replay would confirm the goal, cutting the Chiefs’ deficit in half.
However, with the Chiefs back on the man-advantage midway through the period, the Americans notched their league-leading 16th short-handed goal to regain a two-goal edge. Halfway into a Malte Strömwall high sticking penalty, Shinnimin forced a turnover from Spokane’s Corbin Baldwin and took off with Feser in hot pursuit. Shinnimin eventually dealt the puck to Feser, who buried his 37th goal of the season and third straight game-winning goal.
With just over a minute remaining in the 3rd period, and with Engel pulled for the extra attacker, the Davis Vandane’s shot from the left point found its way through traffic, and past Rimmer, pulling Spokane back to within in one at 3-2.
But, only 33 seconds later, and with 33 seconds left in regulation, Shinnimin capped the scoring by recording his 55th goal of the season into an empty Chiefs’ net.
Rimmer, behind 35 saves, earned his third straight win and 29th of the season. Meanwhile, Engel kicked aside 15 of the 18 shots he faced in the loss. Tri-City finished then night 2-for-2 on the power play and a perfect 4-of-4 on the penalty kill.
With the road portion of their schedule now wrapped up, the Americans return home for the final four games of the season. Tri-City kicks off the regular season’s final week on Sunday, March 11 when they play host to the Prince George Cougars (21-44-0-2). Game time is 5:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. The Americans currently lead the four-game season series 2-0 after notching consecutive 1-0 wins at CN Centre back in late October. The Cougars, who have lost 8 of their last 10, play in Kelowna on Saturday before heading to Kennewick. 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 4:45 p.m.
With 3 assists tonight, Brendan Shinnimin now has 200 for his WHL career. He is just the 5th player to ever reach 200 with the Americans. Additionally, with a goal tonight, Shinnimin also passed Dylan Gyori (127) for 6th on Tri-City’s all-time goals scored list…With 2 goals tonight, Adam Hughesman moved past Brian Sakic (132) for 4th on the Americans’ all-time goals scored list…With his 3rd game-winning goal in as many games, Justin Feser scored career goal #111 in his 275th WHL game, tying him with Stu Barnes for 11th all-time…With an assist tonight, Patrick Holland continued his WHL-best 16-game assist streak, collecting 30 assists in that span…The Americans finish the 2011-12 season with a 23-12-1-0 road record, tying the franchise record for road wins in a season (2007-08). It also marks the 4th time in the past 6 seasons that an Americans’ team has picked up 20+ road wins. Tri-City had 1 20 road win season prior to 2006-07. Head Coach Jim Hiller now has 2 20+ road win seasons in his 3 years in Tri-City and has averaged exactly 20 road wins per season.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
2, Adam Hughesman, Tri-City
3, Dominik Uher, Spokane