Saturday, December 29, 2012
Tri-City Americans (20-13-1-2, 43 pts) at Portland Winterhawks (30-5-1-0, 61 pts)
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR; 3:00 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870
Watch: WHL Live
Portland: 4-3 Win at Tri-City
Tri-City: 4-3 Loss vs. Portland
Portland: Nicolas Petan, 24G-36A–60PT; Brendan Leipsic 22G-35A–57PT; Ty Rattie 19G-28A–47PT
Tri-City: Justin Feser, 21G-22A–43PT; Malte Strömwall 12G-17A–29PT; Connor Rankin 12G-8A—20PT
Portland enters the second half of the season with the best record in the Western Hockey League with 29 wins and 59 points and have five more points than the second best team in the league Kamloops Blazers. They have dominated the league in almost every facet of the game, scoring 16 more goals than the second place Kelowna Rockets and allowing 10 fewer goals than the second place Edmonton Oil Kings. The Winterhawks are seventh in the league on the power play and second in the league in penalty killing. Tri-City enters the second half of the season in third place in the U.S. Division and fifth place in the Western Conference. Tri-City had 20 wins for the fifth time in six seasons with the win over Seattle heading into the break. Tri-City doesn’t have the numbers of last season but is still playing solid hockey. At the break, the Americans had the fifth best road win percentage in the league. Tri-City has the third worst power play in the league on the road, but has the fourth best penalty kill on the road.
Players to Watch
C Nicolas Petan: Leading the team in points, he has a point in every game in December and has eight goals and assists this month along with a +12 rating.
RW Taylor Leier: The 18-year-old Philadelphia Flyers draft pick from last year’s entry draft has six goals and two assists this month.
C Justin Feser: Feser got off to a solid start for the second half of the season. He scored two goals last night and almost led the Americans to a comeback.
RW Beau McCue: The Montana native has come on strong in December, scoring six goals and three assists and a +6 rating.
Keys to the Game
Deja Vu: The Americans played the Winterhawks last night and fell 4-3 in a comeback attempt that fell just short. Losing the first game back from break hurt the confidence the Americans had going after they had a two game winning streak going into break. The Americans will need to flip the script from last night and come out of Portland with a win.
Road Warriors: Tri-City has a good road record this season at 11-6-1-0, including a 4-0 record on the road in the month of December. That win includes the only victory against Portland this season, a 3-2 win in the Rose Garden with Luke Lee-Knight playing incredible in net to hold off a Winterhawks comeback attempt. If the Americans win, they will go undefeated on the road in December.
Portland: Dec. 31 vs. Seattle
Tri-City: Dec. 31 vs. Spokane