KENNEWICK, WA (ISN) – Ty Rimmer kicked aside 30 shots, while Adam Hughesman notched his 49th and 50th goals of the season and the Tri-City Americans (50-17-2-2, 104 pts) fought past the feisty Everett Silvertips (21-40-2-8, 52 pts) 4-1 in front of 6,056 fans inside the Toyota Center.
With the win, the Americans secured their fourth U.S. Division title in the last five years, while earning their 50th victory of the season. It’s just the second time a Tri-City team has reached the 50-win plateau. Meanwhile, with the loss, the Silvertips face a must win situation in Seattle tomorrow if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The ‘Tips went toe-to-toe with Tri-City for most of the night, often utilizing a defensive system that bottled up the fast-paced Americans.
But, after a scoreless 1st period, and a 2-to-1 Tri-City shot advantage after two periods of play, the Americans finally were able to break through. With 5:28 left in the 2nd period, Hughesman found Jordan Messier in the slot, who redirected Hughesman’s pass up and over the shoulder of Kent Simpson, recording his 18th goal of the season and giving Tri-City a 1-0 lead.
The lead held until late into the 3rd period, before the two teams capped a wild finish with a combined 4 goals scored inside the final six and a half minutes.
With 6:17 left in regulation, Joshua Winquist won a face-off in the Tri-City zone. His pull went straight to Reid Petryk, who then fired a quick wrist shot past a startled Rimmer, knotting the game at 1 with his 18th goal of the season.
But, with the contest seemingly destined for overtime, the Americans fought back two minutes later. After Justin Feser started a 3-on-3 break, he fed newly returned Jesse Mychan, who carried the puck into the offensive zone. Mychan then let a blast go on Simpson, who kicked the rebound out into the high slot. But, there to capitalize was Zachary Yuen, who was cheating up from the point. Yuen flicked the puck into a near empty net, giving the Americans a 2-1 lead.
Then, with 2:08 left to play, the trio of Hughesman, Brendan Shinnimin and Patrick Holland all combined on Hughesman’s first of two goals on the night. Shinnimin wrapped around the Everett net and skated into the far circle, before he flung a shot on net. Hughesman was there to finish the play, giving Tri-City a two-goal cushion.
Less than a minute later, Everett coach Mark Ferner pulled Simpson for the extra attacker, as they looked to pull within one. But, with 40 seconds left in regulation, Shinnimin intercepted a Brennan Yadlowski pass and took off towards the empty net. Once Shinnimin gained the red line, he passed the puck off to Hughesman, who fired it straight into the empty net for his 50th marker of the season.
Despite a lower than usual shot total to start the game, Rimmer came up big when needed, including on a short-handed breakaway after Messier’s goal in the second. He then stopped 16 of 17 in the 3rd period to pick up his 31st win of the season. Meanwhile, Simpson was solid all night, finishing with 34 saves in the loss. Tri-City finished the night 0-for-3 on the power play, but was a perfect 1-of-1 on the penalty kill.
With the division title and #1 seed in the West all wrapped up, the Americans still have a shot at the Scotty Munro trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season record. In addition to an Edmonton loss, the Americans will need to take care of business tomorrow, March 17 against the rival Spokane Chiefs (37-25-5-4). Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. With the Chiefs locked into the #5 spot, the teams will be playing mainly for pride and momentum heading into the 2012 WHL Playoffs. The Americans enter Saturday having won 5 of their last 6 games. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have lost their last four meetings with Tri-City. 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 be broadcast live on KVEW-TV’s My Network, starting at 7:00 p.m. The game will also be aired live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
With 2 goals and 3 points tonight, Adam Hughesman reached 50 goals on the season and 350 points for his WHL career. With Hughesman now at 50 goals this season, he joins Brendan Shinnimin as two of the 4 WHL skaters to reach the mark this season. It also marks the first time, and the 4th time in franchise history, since 1994-95 (Daymond Langkow and Terry Ryan) that an Americans’ roster has featured two 50-goal scorers…With 2 assists tonight, Brendan Shinnimin continued his point streak, which now sits at 22 games. It’s one better than his previous career-best run from last year, and tied Colton Yellow Horn (2007-08) for the longest streak in franchise history…With an assist tonight, Patrick Holland continued both his points and assists streaks, both of which sit at 19 games. His 19-game assist streak is tops in the WHL…With a crowd of 6,056, Tri-City hosted it’s 4th 6,000+ crowd of the season. All 4 of those figures rank inside the top-6 all-time attended games in Tri-City history.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Ty Rimmer, Tri-City
2, Zachary Yuen, Tri-City
3, Kent Simpson, Everett