Game Day Preview: Chiefs @ Americans
Tuesday December 31, 2013
Spokane Chiefs (22-13-0-2, 46 pts.) At Tri-City Americans (17-17-2-2, 38 pts.)
Toyota Center, Kennewick, WA; 7:05 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870; 6:45 p.m.
Watch: WHL Live
Spokane: 12/28/13 vs. Kootenay (1-2, Loss)
Tri-City: 12/28/13 at Portland (1-4, Loss)
2013/14 Point Leaders
Spokane: Mitch Holmberg 37G-38A-75PT , Mike Aviani 27G-24A-51PT, Reid Gow 0G-35A-35PT
Tri-City: Connor Rankin 13G-19A-32PT , Brian Williams 21G-10A-31 PT , Phil Tot 9G-13A-22PT
The Spokane Chiefs visit the Toyota Center for the 25th Annual New Year’s Eve Contest. This is the fifth of 12 meetings between these two teams, where the Americans have gone 1-2-1-0 with a shootout victory in the last meeting on November 30. All-time, Tri-City trails the Chiefs with a record of 141-144-7-3 w/ 13 ties.
The Americans are looking to continue its recent success in the New Year’s Eve game, where it has won each of the last five, dating back to its 4-1 victory in 2007. Since New Year’s Eve in the year 2000, Tri-City has compiled a record of 6-3-1-0 with one tie in the annual game.
Players to Watch
Mitch Holmberg- Holmberg has been the most dangerous scorer in the WHL this season, leading the league with 37. He is 10-goals clear of Oliver Bjorkstrand who sits second in the WHL goal scoring race. With 75 points in 37 games, the Alberta native is averaging over two points a game, shutting him down is key to the Americans success tonight.
Mike Aviani- Another challenge for the Americans defense tonight will be Aviani who currently sits fifth in the WHL with 64 points. With 27 goals this season the only person to score more than him has been his teammate Holmberg.
Adam Helewka- Rounding out the Chiefs top three goal scorers is Helewka who enters Tuesday’s game with 15 on the season. The Burnaby native has struggled to get his offense going against the Americans this season being held to just one assist in three head to head meetings.
Brendan O’Reilly- O’Reilly is two games into his WHL career with the Tri-City Americans, filling in for a defensive unit that has been riddled with injuries. The rookie will be getting his first taste of the rivalry against Spokane when he takes the ice tonight.
Brian Williams- While the Americans fell to the Winterhawks 4-1 in its last contest, one silver lining of the game was the play of Brian Williams who snapped a 10-game goalless draught. Williams leads the team with 21 goals and Tri-City will look to the 18-year-old to spark the struggling offense.
Phil Tot- Tot has looked strong since returning to the lineup on December 27, registering points in both games since his return. While the 20-year-old hasn’t scored since December 7, with the offense he has created it is only a matter of time before he lights the lamp.
2013 In Review : Tonight’s game against the Chiefs will conclude another eventful calendar year for the Americans, which featured its seventh consecutive 40 win season and its 10th straight playoff appearance. The Team comes into tonight’s contest with a 36-30-3-3 record in 2013, earning 78 pts. and a .542 winning percentage.
Maxwell James Joins Americans: With the Team continuing to play shorthanded, the Americans have called on the services of forward Maxwell James. James, a native of Kamloops, British Columbia has spent the season with the Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League registering 14 goals and 16 assists in 30 games with the team.
Against the U.S. Division: The Americans are looking to improve its record against the U.S. Division where it currently holds a 6-10-2-1 record this season. The division continues to be arguably the strongest in the WHL, with all five teams sitting at .500 or better. It is also the only division in the league with every team currently holding a playoff position.
Snapping the Streak: Tri-City comes into tonight’s game searching for its first victory since December 6 in Prince George. The Americans have gone the last six games without a win, earning one point in last Friday’s overtime loss.
Getting off on the Right Foot: The first goal of the game continues to be a determining factor for the Americans this season. When scoring the first goal of the game, Tri-City holds a record of 13-2-1-1 and only a 4-15-0-1 record when giving up the first goal of the game.
One Goal Games vs. Chiefs: The Americans are set for another tight battle against the Chiefs with each of the last three being decided by just one goal, including two games being decided in extra time.
Tri-City: vs. Portland 01/04/14
Spokane: vs. Victoria 01/03/14