Friday, February 8, 2013
Victoria Royals (30-19-1-3, 64 pts) at Tri-City Americans (31-19-1-2, 65 pts)
Toyota Center, Kennewick, WA; 7:05 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870
Watch: WHL Live
Victoria: 4-1 Win vs. Seattle
Tri-City: 4-3 Overtime Win at Seattle
Victoria: Alex Gogolev, 20G-45A–65PT; Brandon Magee 26G-23A–49PT; Jamie Crooks 26G-14A-40PT
Tri-City: Justin Feser, 29G-43A–72PT; Malte Strömwall 16G-26A–42PT; Connor Rankin 19G-17A–36PT
This is a very big weekend for Spokane, Victoria and Tri-City. All of these teams are separated by a point, and all are vying for the fourth playoff seed to earn home ice in the first round of the playoffs. On top of that, Tri-City plays Victoria tonight, Tri-City plays Spokane tomorrow and Victoria plays Spokane on Sunday, meaning this weekend will be a big factor in playoff seeding come March. Tri-City and Victoria enter this game on three game win streaks, with Victoria defeating Prince George and Seattle twice coming into this game while the Americans defeated Prince George, Everett and Seattle. Both teams come into this game winning seven of their last 10 games. This is the final meeting between the two teams during the regular season, with Victoria coming out on top twice. Tri-City earned a 3-2 overtime win in Victoria on Jan. 4 as Michal Plutnar’s goal beat the overtime buzzer. Victoria won the only game played in the Toyota Center 4-3 in a shootout as the Royals came from behind to win the game. Tri-City is 10-3-0-1 against the Royals at home all-time.
Players to Watch
RW Trent Lofthouse: Since coming over from Everett at the trade deadline, Lofthouse has three goals and an assist in nine games.
D Joe Hicketts: Hicketts helped the Royals earn a victory last time these two teams met in the Toyota Center by chipping in two assists.
C Justin Feser: The captain has a three game point streak and scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against Seattle last game.
C Parker Bowles: Bowles had a goal and two assists in the win against Seattle and is fourth on the team in scoring with 29 points.
Keys to the Game
Playoffs?: The Chiefs, Royals and Americans all play each other in a round robin format this weekend. Tri-City is hanging on to the fourth spot in the Western Conference, but Spokane and Victoria are nipping at their heels and are one point behind. The Americans can really help their chances of home ice in the first round of the playoffs if they can win the game tonight against Victoria, which would split the season series at two and then knock off Spokane tomorrow to help them continue to have a leg up on both teams.
Home Ice Woes: Tri-City was 27-6-1-2 at home last season, but that is not the case this season, as the Americans have struggled at home with a 13-10-0-2 record. The Americans have barely outscored opponents at home 84-80. Tri-City does have an excellent power play at home, ranking fifth in the league at 24.8 percent. The Americans need to pick up their play on home ice if they want to continue to hold onto the number four seed in the Western Conference.
Victoria: Feb. 10 at Spokane
Tri-City: Feb. 9 at Spokane
Game Day Promotions
The Victoria Royals make their final Toyota Center appearance this season on Meyers’ Auto Tech Fellowship Night, presented by Mix 105.3 FM, KEPR-TV and the Tri-City Herald. The first one thousand fans will receive a free set of hand clapper noisemakers, courtesy of Meyers’ Auto Tech. It’s another Tri-City Herald Family Friday, presented by KEPR-TV, so be sure to clip the coupon in the Herald or online at Tri-City Herald.com to save big at the Toyota Center box office. It’s also our next Kadlec Regional Medical Center Book and Food Drive. Bring your donation of new and gently used children’s book and pre-packaged food items to the game to be entered to win a free NOOK Color Tablet, courtesy of Kadlec. On-ice fun will include a performance by the Tri-Cities Amateur Hockey Association, presented by Hockey Source and the Meyers’ Auto Tech 5-Puck Shootout.