Junior Hockey

Tri-Cities Melts the Ice 3-0.

12/5/08 in Junior Hockey   |   neilatwood   |   respect

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KENNEWICK, WA - Wednesday was a good day for Chet Pickard.

Earlier this afternoon, Pickard was invited to attend Team Canada's National Junior Team Selection Camp next week, the last tryout before Hockey Canada selects the roster for the World Juniors tournament held in late December. Later on, he earned his ninth career shutout.

Pickard, after collecting all 26 shots he faced, picked-up his 88th career victory to lead the Tri-City Americans (20-7-0-2, 42 pts) to a 3-0 win over the visiting Kootenay Ice (16-12-2-3, 37 pts) in front of 4,424 fans at Toyota Center. The win stretched the Americans' winning streak to six games and improved their home record to 13-1 thus far this season. Tri-City also maintained their five-point lead in the division, after Spokane defeated Calgary in a shootout. Meanwhile, it marked the third straight loss Kootenay has suffered at the hands of Tri-City, something that has not been done since the 2003-04 season.

The two squads battled for possession all night long as the Ice were able to neutralize Tri-City's speed. Shots were hard to come by in the first period with the two teams combining for just 15 shots on goal. But, just past the halfway point of the period, Mason Wilgosh netted just his second goal of the season, giving Tri-City the early lead.

After trailing 1-0 going to the first break, the Ice came out and controlled most of the second period, outshooting the Americans 13 to 8. However, with 4:45 remaining in the period, Jason Reese was able to get the puck past Ice netminder Nathan Lieuwen, putting Tri-City up 2-0. The back-breaker for Kootenay came just 1:20 later, when Reese connected again, this time on the power play, to give the Americans all the offense they would need.

Over the final 20 minutes of play, the Americans outshot the Ice 11 to 3 and benefited from four Kootenay penalties, allowing Tri-City to run out the clock. Lieuwen made several huge saves to keep the Ice in the contest down the stretch, but Kootenay would get no closer, as Lieuwen finished the night with 21 saves.

Tri-City went 1-for-7 on the power play and was a perfect 5-of-5 on the penalty kill.

The Americans will get a quick breather tomorrow, before they prepare for another doubleheader weekend at Toyota Center. Up first are their division rivals, the Seattle Thunderbirds, who come to town on Friday, December 5. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Tri-City is 3-0 in the nine-game series against the T'birds this season, all of which have been played in the friendly confines of the Toyota Center thus far. In a series known for its tight contests, the Americans have won five of their last six regular season match-ups with the T'birds, however the average margin of victory in those games is only 1.67. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. Those unable to make it to the game can catch all the action live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
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