Americans Take Re-Match With Hitmen 3-1
By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans
KENNEWICK, WA – It may not atone for the still lingering feelings from last year’s loss in the league finals, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Patrick Holland and Brooks Macek each had two-point nights while Drew Owsley picked up 34 saves to guide the Tri-City Americans (8-3-1-0, 17 pts) past the visiting Calgary Hitmen (4-5-0-0, 8 pts) 3-1 in front of 3,630 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, the Americans start a fifth straight season 4-0 at home, while improving to 9-11-0-0 with 1 tie all-time vs. the Hitmen. Meanwhile, Calgary suffered their second loss through four stops of their U.S. Division swing and marks the fourth time in nine games that the club has been held to 2 or fewer goals in a contest.
It had been just over five months since the two clubs faced off at the Toyota Center, but the re-match was still on everyone’s mind, even if the rosters did not resemble what was on display in last year’s WHL Finals. Tuesday’s contest may not have been for anything more than two points in the standings this time, but fans were certainly treated to a great contest nonetheless.
The two squads launched a combined 26 shots on goal through the first period, but some fortunate bounces and key defensive plays kept the game scoreless through the first 20 minutes. For Tri-City, one of the key moments of the game came midway through the first period, when they were forced to kill off a 1:09-minute 5-on-3 Calgary power play. But, kill it off they did, as the game marched on.
The scoreless drought continued well into the second period before Tri-City finally got the scoring started. With 7:27 left in the period, Zachary Yuen dumped the puck into the right corner, where Macek would drive hard in after it. Out of the corner, Macek sent a feed to Adam Hughesman, who fired a shot past Juraj Holly. With his team-leading 8th goal of the season, Hughesman gave the Americans the 1-0 lead.
At the 6:32 mark of the third period, the lead grew to 2-0 after some more slick passing by the Americans. This time, Justin Feser set-up Macek out of the left corner, who found the back of the net with a slap shot.
A minute and a half later, though, Calgary responded to pull back to within one. From behind the Tri-City net, Chase Clayton fed Justin Kirsch in the slot, who notched his fifth goal of the season on Owsley.
But, just 18 seconds after Kirsch’s goal, Holland took off down the left wing and shelved a shot over Holly’s glove to make it a 3-1 game.
With 1:55 remaining in regulation, Calgary head coach Mike Williamson pulled Holly for the extra attacker but to no avail as Tri-City held on for the win. Holly finished the night with 26 saves on 29 shots in the loss. Meanwhile, behind 34 saves on 35 shots, Owsley improved to 6-3 on the year. Both squads finished 0-for-3 on the power play.
As much as they enjoyed being home, the Americans will get back on the bus for another long bus ride. This time, the club will make camp in central British Columbia where they will take on the resurgent Prince George Cougars (5-4-1-0) in a doubleheader weekend at CN Centre. Game times are 7:00 pm for both Friday and Saturday’s contests. The Americans, who have played more road games than any other team in the Western Conference to start the year, will look to improve their road record at CN Centre, where they have won in their eight of their last 10 visits, including their previous four trips. Meanwhile, the Cougars, who won just 12 games last season, already have five to their credit in 10 games in 2010-11. Prince George, who hosts Brandon on Wednesday, has won two straight games and three of their last four. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL WebTV, at the Americans’ home away from home, Kimo’s Sports Café in Richland. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 pm.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Patrick Holland, Tri-City
2, Drew Owsley, Tri-City
3, Justin Feser, Tri-City