Kennewick, WA- The Tri-City Americans (4-6-1-0, 9 pts) wanted to prove how good they were against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Brandon Wheat Kings (8-1-0-2, 18 pts). But the Wheat Kings were a little better on Friday Night, defeating the Americans 5-3 in front of 4,016 at the Toyota Center.
Brandon got on the board two minutes into the first, as Stelio Mattheos drove to the net and flipped a shot top shelf for a 1-0 lead. Tri-City answered two minutes later, as Tyler Sandhu cleaned up a loose puck in front of the net to even the score. Brandon had the 14-5 shot advantage in the first, but the game was tied going into the second.
Midway through the second, the tie was broken by Tri-City. Parker Bowles found the back of the net, deflecting the puck into the twine for a 2-1 lead. The Wheat Kings came right back and scored to even the game, as John Quenneville tallied a shorthanded goal. Brandon retook the lead late in the second on the power play. Rihards Bukarts fired a shot through a screen that found the top left corner of the net for a 3-2 lead after two periods.
Tri-City fought to tie the game in the third, and got the goal 12:41 into the third. Morgan Geekie skated to the right faceoff circle and sent a centering pass to Juuso Valimaki, tipping the puck into the goal to even the score at three. Brandon was able to take the lead again just more than two minutes later, as Bukarts scored his second of the game to put the Wheat Kings ahead 4-3. Tri-City put the extra attacker on the ice late in the game looking to tie the score, but an empty net goal by Jayce Hawryluk sealed the win for Brandon.
Tri-City has lost two straight and is winless against the Eastern Conference in two games this season.
The Americans were unsuccessful with five power play opportunities and recorded 10 penalty minutes. The Wheat Kings converted 1-of-5 power play opportunities and also spent 10 minutes in the penalty box.
Jordan Papirny made 21 saves in the win while Evan Sarthou stopped 29 shots in the loss.
The Americans are back in action tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 24, against the Portland Winterhawks (3-6-0-0, 6 pts). Game time is at 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. Tri-City defeated Portland in the lone meeting so far this season, 4-2, in Kennewick. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster locations, including the Toyota Center Box Office, all Fred Meyer outlets or online at Ticketmaster.com.
Jack in the Box Three Stars
1. Rihards Bukarts, Brandon
2. Juuso Valimaki, Tri-City
3. John Quenneville, Brandon
WHL Box Score: CLICK HERE