Sept 20,2014(ISN) – Kennewick, WA- The atmosphere was electric at the Toyota Center as the puck dropped to begin the 2014-15 season. But that joy turned to sadness by the end of the game, as the Tri-City Americans (0-1-0-0, 0 pts) fell to the Spokane Chiefs (1-0-0-0, 2 pts) 4-2 to start the season for both teams.
Both teams came out and established the physical play early, with some big hits coming from defenseman Justin Hamonic and forward Lucas Nickles. The Chiefs broke the scoreless tie 7:20 into the first, with Dominic Zwerger shooting a puck that took a bounce through the legs of goaltender Evan Sarthou to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. Spokane increased the lead to 2-0 late in the period, as a shot from the point deflected to an open Mitch Lipon at the right side of the net, burying the shot to give the Chiefs a two-goal edge. Tri-City fought back late in the period on the power play. Lukin received a pass at the left hash mark and fired a shot over the glove of Spokane goaltender Garret Hughson with one second left in the first to cut the lead to 2-1 after the first period.
The physical play continued in the second period, along with both teams having excellent scoring chances. Ty Comrie and Lucas Nickles had breakaway chances, but neither could convert. Spokane made it a two goal game 15 minutes into the second, as Tyson Helgesen scored to make it 3-1. Tri-City fought back once again, as a shot from Brandon Carlo from the point was tipped into the net by Justin Gutierrez, cutting the lead to 3-2. Spokane answered later in the period, with Keanu Yamamoto scoring to increase the lead back to two goals. The Americans had a 15-8 shot advantage in the second period, but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities to go into the third down by two goals.
In the third period, Tri-City looked to get back into the game with a goal to cut the lead to one. The Americans had two power play chances in the middle of the period to get some momentum and get back into the game, but were unable to seize the opportunity. The Americans had a 9-6 shot advantage, but couldn’t get anything going, allowing the Chiefs to cruise in the third period to the 4-2 win.
With the loss, the Americans have fallen to the Chiefs on opening night for the third straight year, with the last win coming in the 2011-12 season, 4-1.
Each team scored a power play goal, with the Americans having six chances while the Chiefs had seven power play chances.
Evan Sarthou made 25 saves in the loss, while Garret Hughson stopped 33 shots in the win.
Tri-City will look to rebound from the loss tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 21, at the Toyota Center against the Prince George Cougars (1-0-0-0, 2 pts). Game time is at 5:05 p.m. Prince George will be in Tri-City after starting the season off with a 6-3 win against the Portland Winterhawks.