KENNEWICK, WA (ISN) – Behind Justin Hamonic’s first career WHL goal, the Tri-City Americans (7-0-2, 14 pts) took their first lead with 3:16 left in the 2nd period, before eventually earning a 5-3 win over the Spokane Chiefs (6-5-0, 12 pts) in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semi-Finals series in front of 4,587 fans at the Toyota Center.
With the win, the Americans take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, which heads back to Spokane for Game 6 on Monday, April 16. Game time is 7:05 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Arena.
In a pivotal Saturday night showdown, it was the Chiefs that jumped out to the early lead. Just 4:04 into the contest, Steven Kuhn cashed in on his second goal of the series and 4th of the playoffs. But, nine and a half minutes later, Patrick Holland returned the favor, using his 2nd goal of the post-season to tie the game at 1 after 20 minutes of play.
The see-saw battle continued into a wild 2nd period that saw the teams combine for 5 goals. The first, only 41 seconds into the frame, and during a scramble in front of the crease, came when Reid Gow tracked down the loose puck and lifted it over a fallen Ty Rimmer, handing the Chiefs a 2-1 lead.
Seven minutes later, though, and on the power play, Adam Hughesman was there to take advantage of a Brendan Shinnimin rebound, knotting the game at 2. However, two minutes later, and on another Tri-City power play, the wrong team capitalized. After he dug the puck free, Kuhn was able to breakout Dominik Uher, who went on to beat Rimmer from the high slot.
But, less than a minute later, defenseman Mitch Topping pulled the Americans even a third time. With 8:07 left in the 2nd period, Zachary Yuen set up Topping, who let a blast go from the point. The shot appeared to change direction, as it eluded Spokane netminder, Eric Williams. Finally, with 3:16 left in the second, Hamonic fired a shot off from the right point. Hamonic’s shot glanced off the leg of Collin Valcourt and just slipped past a diving Williams, giving Tri-City their first lead at 4-3.
Still holding onto their one-goal lead in the 3rd period, the Americans flexed their muscles, limiting the Chiefs to just 5 shots on goal in the final period. Meanwhile, despite registering just 9 shots of their own, the Americans iced it when Connor Rankin buried an empty netter with a minute left in regulation.
After collecting 21 saves on 24 shots, Rimmer improved to 7-0-2 this post-season. Meanwhile, Williams allowed 4 goals on 32 shots in the loss, ending his string of 8 straight starts of allowing 2 goals or less. Tri-City finished the night going 1-for-2 on the power play and was a perfect 2-of-2 on the penalty kill.
Both squads will take tomorrow off and prepare for Monday’s Game 6 in Spokane. Tri-City, which is 5-3 inside Veterans Memorial Arena this year, will be looking to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in the last five seasons. Meanwhile, Spokane will be aiming to force a decisive Game 7 back in Kennewick on Wednesday, April 18. The game will be aired locally in the Tri-Cities on KVEW-TV’s My Network 280, starting at 7:00 p.m. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
By playing tonight, Adam Hughesman became the franchise’s all-time leader in playoff games played, passing Kruise Reddick (65)…A late scoring change from Game 4 allowed Brendan Shinnimin to continue his point streak. Shinnimin, who was awarded the second assist on Derek Ryckman’s goal, now has points in 32 consecutive games. And, with 2 assists tonight added to the one from Game 4, Shinnimin became the franchise leader in playoff assists (39), passing Kruise Reddick.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Patrick Holland, Tri-City
2, Justin Hamonic, Tri-City
3, Steven Kuhn, Spokane