Game Day Preview: Americans @ Chiefs

Friday March 22, 2013
2013 WHL Playoffs 1st Round- Game 1
(5) Tri-City Americans (40-27-2-3, 85 pts) at (4) Spokane Chiefs (44-26-2-0, 90 pts)
Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, WA; 7:05 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870
Watch: MeTV 42.2/Charter 280

Series Overview
03/22/13 – Game 1: Tri-City at Spokane

03/23/13 – Game 2: Tri-City at Spokane
03/26/13 – Game 3: Spokane at Tri-City
03/28/13 – Game 4: Spokane at Tri-City
03/30/13 – Game 5: Spokane at Tri-City*
04/02/13 – Game 6: Tri-City at Spokane*
04/03/13 – Game 7: Tri-City at Spokane*
* = If Necessary

Regular Season Point Leaders
Brenden Kichton, 22G-63A–85PT; Mitch Holmberg 39G-41A–80PT; Todd Fiddler 42G-35A–77PT

Tri-City: Justin Feser, 44G-62A–106PT; Malte Strömwall 21G-45A–66PT; Connor Rankin 32G-26A–58PT

The Highway 395 rivals meet for the third consecutive year in the playoffs. Tri-City earned a late goal in Game 7 last season in the Conference Semi-Finals to edge Spokane 4 games to 3. In the 2011 playoffs, it was Spokane that defeated Tri-City 4 games to 2 in the Conference Semi-Finals. Spokane and Tri-City have met in the playoffs six times previous, with Spokane coming out on top in four of the six series. The other series win for Tri-City besides last season was in the 1995 WHL Playoffs, defeating the Chiefs 4 games to 3 in the Conference Semi-Finals. The Americans have gotten past the first round in the past five seasons and are looking to make it six straight against Spokane, while Spokane has advanced past the first round in the past two seasons. Tri-City is making their 21st appearance in the Playoffs in their 25th season in the Western Hockey League while Spokane is making their 24th appearance in the playoffs. This is the 10th straight season the Americans have made the playoffs.

Players to Watch
RW Mitch Holmberg: Holmberg is the second leading scorer on the team against the Americans with seven goals and four assists and is second on the team overall in points.      

RW Blake Gal: The 20-year-old does not want his WHL career to end in the first round and had the game-winning goal in overtime against the Americans in the regular season finale between the two teams.    
RW Malte Strömwall: Strömwall was second on the team in points overall this season and led the team in points against Spokane with six goals and six assists.

C Parker Bowles: The leading rookie point scorer on the team this season was the second leading scorer on the team against Spokane with seven goals and four assists.        

Keys to the Game
Home Away From Home: Tri-City played six games in Veterans Memorial Coliseum this season, the most played in one building on the road for the Americans this season. The Americans were excellent on the road this season with a 21-14-1-0 record. The Americans were 2-4 on the road in Spokane this season, earning a 2-1 win on Dec. 15 and a 4-3 overtime win on Jan. 19. There will be no surprises for the Americans in Spokane and the experience winning in Spokane proves to themselves that they can defeat the Chiefs on the road.    
Leadership: Both team captains will be crucial in how this series plays out. Justin Feser and Brenden Kichton both lead their teams in points and are the vocal leaders of their teams in the locker room. Neither Feser nor Kichton want this to be their final series in the WHL and both will be fighting hard to make sure that their team advances to the next round.     

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