Kennewick, WA – With a touch of irony, the Americans will head into the off-season riding their longest winning streak of their 2015-16 season.
Five different skaters scored and Nicholas Sanders kicked aside 29 shots, as the Tri-City Americans (35-34-2-1, 73 pts) downed the visiting Spokane Chiefs (33-30-5-4, 75 pts) 5-3 in front of a raucous 4,960 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, the Americans’ season comes to an end following their fourth straight win, the longest of the season. But, despite having more wins than Spokane, Tri-City will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03.
The Americans would get the ball rolling early on, with Brandon Carlo’s blast less than a minute into the contest. Four minutes later, Morgan Geekie followed that up with his 12th goal of the season, quickly making it a 2-0 game. But, the Chiefs would respond, as Jacob Cardiff pulled Spokane to within 1 at the 7:24 mark of the first period.
The Chiefs would quickly tie the game in the second period, as Jason Fram scored 2:38 into the frame. Three minutes later though, and on the power play, Parker Bowles’ 39th of the season gave Tri-City a 3-2 lead. But, with less than 3 seconds remaining in the period, Markson Bechtold connected on the power play, tying the game at 3 after 2 periods of play.
Midway through the third, however, Nolan Yaremko gave the Americans the lead for good. For Yaremko, it was his 8th goal of the season and second in as many games. Finally, with 1:32 left in regulation, Mackenze Stewart beat three Chiefs back to the puck, poking it into the open net for a 5-3 advantage.
Sanders finished the game with 29 saves on 32 shots in collecting his 9th win of the season. Meanwhile, Lasse Petersen picked up 23 saves in the loss. Tri-City finished 2-of-3 on the power play, while Spokane went 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.
The Americans will say goodbye to its three overage players in Stewart, Bowles and Beau McCue, who have played their final games in the WHL and will look to the future as it attempts to fill their shoes. Tri-City will return a talented group of young players who made up one of the youngest team in the WHL this season as it prepares for another exciting year of Americans hockey.
Jack in the Box:
1. Brandon Carlo, Tri-City
2. Parker Bowles, Tri-City
3. Markson Bechtold, Spokane
2015-16 Americans’ Year-End Awards:
Volunteer of the Year: Brian Banner
Corporate Sponsor of the Year: Kadlec Regional Medical Center
Jack in the Box 3 Stars Award: Parker Bowles
UA Local 598 Hardest Working Player of the Year: Beau McCue
Les Schwab Tire Centers Scholastic Player of the Year: Nolan Yaremko
Toyota of Tri-Cities Todd Klassen Humanitarian of the Year: Brandon Carlo
Most Sportsmanlike Player: Juuso Vӓlimӓki
Rookie of the Year: Michael Rasmussen
Berkshire Hathaway Defensive Player of the Year: Parker Wotherspoon
SonShine Collision Services Offensive Player of the Year: Parker Bowles
Harringtons Trophies Most Valuable Player: Parker Bowles