By Annie Fowler | Tri-City Herald
Beseeched by injuries and at times relying on affiliate players to fill out a full lineup, the Tri-City Americans had one of their most challenging seasons in the last seven years.
The Americans finished fifth in the Western Conference with a 40-27-2-3 (85 points) record, five points behind fourth-place Spokane.
Tri-City then dropped its first-round playoff series to the Chiefs, 4-1. It was the first time since 2007 that the Americans lost in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag,” Americans general manager Bob Tory said. “We lost a lot of high-profile players. We knew when they left it would be a transition year, but we came into the year having some high standards and expectations. I’m really impressed with the development of some of our younger players, and we faced a lot of adversity with injuries. The message to the players is that’s part of hockey and you have to play through that, and for the most part I think we did that.”
The Americans tied a Western Hockey League record with 40 or more wins in seven consecutive seasons, and they advanced to the playoffs for the 10th year in a row. But with the high expectations from winning four U.S. Division titles in five years, bowing out in the first round is not acceptable.