Junior Hockey

Tri-Cities Opens a can of Whoop -ass on Spokane!

11/29/08 in Junior Hockey   |   neilatwood   |   respect

KENNEWICK, WA - Americans coach Don Nachbaur has guided his teams to victory 399 times in the WHL, but given the chance, you always want to set milestones against your rivals.

Chet Pickard stopped 33 shots and the Tri-City Americans (18-7-0-2, 38 pts) got goals from five different skaters to hand Nachbaur his 400th WHL victory in a 5-1 win over the rival Spokane Chiefs (16-8-0-3, 35 pts) in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,858 in Kennewick. With the win, Nachbaur becomes just the 10th coach in WHL history to reach the milestone. With their fourth straight victory, Tri-City stretched their lead to three points over the Chiefs for the division lead and evened the best-of-12 series with the Chiefs at 2 games apiece. Meanwhile, Spokane lost for the fourth time in their last five games.

The night started off as a typical Ams/Chiefs slugfest, as the two teams combined for 29 shots in the first period, but skated to a 0-0 tie after the first 20 minutes of play.

At 5:05 of the second period, Spokane's Steve Kuhn broke the scoreless tie, netting the Chiefs' lone goal. Kuhn, with an assist from Blake Gal, got Pickard to commit to the far post, before he maneuvered the puck past him and gave Spokane the 1-0 lead.

But, just over five minutes later and on the penalty kill, Johnny Lazo took off on a shorthanded breakaway. Just before Lazo let his shot go, he was pulled down from behind as both he and the puck crashed into the Spokane net. Although the goal light came on, the officiating crew awarded Lazo a penalty shot instead. In the end, it would not matter, as Lazo beat Chiefs' netminder Dustin Tokarski and tied the game at 1. Then, with less than four minutes remaining in the period, Kruise Reddick registered a power play goal, giving Tri-City a 2-1 lead headed into the second intermission.

Only 1:48 into the third period, Tri-City connected again on the power play, this time off the stick of Mitch Fadden. After a nice feed from Taylor Procyshen, Fadden shot the puck off Tokarski's left skate and into the net, giving him six goals on the season and four since joining Tri-City. Then, two and a half minutes later, Adam Hughesman buried a Reddick rebound, past a sprawling Tokarski, to increase Tri-City's lead to 4-1. Finally, with 5:45 remaining in regulation and on the penalty kill, Jarrett Toll capped the scoring in the contest with his career-high sixth goal of the season and second shorthanded goal of his career. The Americans' four-goal margin of victory tied the record for the second-largest since Nachbaur joined the game in 2003.

The Americans finished the night 2-for-7 on the power play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Tokarski, who came into Friday's contest second in the WHL in goals against average, collected 32 saves on 37 shots faced.

With two big division wins behind them, Tri-City sets up a clash of the conference's best. Tomorrow, Saturday, November 29, the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Giants make their first visit to the Toyota Center, in a contest that will feature two 400+ win coaches and clubs with 39 combined victories. It also pits the conference's best road team (Vancouver, 11-1-0-1) against the best home team (Tri-City, 11-1-0-0). Tri-City has won their last three home contests against the Giants and is 11-5 all-time at home against their conference rivals. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
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