Tri-City Americans vs. Kelowna Rockets Preview - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-City Americans vs. Kelowna Rockets Preview

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KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Here is a preview of the Tri-City Americans upcoming series with the Kelowna Rockets.



2008-09 regular-season record:

Tri-Cities: 49-20-0-3, 101pts Kelowna:  47-21-1-3, 98pts  

2008-09 Head-to-head record: 

Tri-Cities:  2-2-0-0, 4pts Kelowna:  2-2-0-0, 4pts  

2008-09 head-to-head top scorers:

Tri-Cities: Jason Reese  4gp-3g-1a-4pts Johnny Lazo  4gp-1g-3a-4pts  

 Kelowna: Cody Almond  3gp-4g-1a-5pts Jamie Benn  3gp-2g-0a-2pts  

The Tri-City Americans and Kelowna Rockets meet up in the post-season for the first time since 2003-04.  Shea Weber and the Rockets defeated Ryan Kinasewich and the Americans four games to two in the second round of the 2004 WHL Playoffs.  

The Americans are making their second straight appearance in the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference semi-finals after defeating the Everett Silvertips four games to one in the opening round.  After splitting the opening two games of their first-round series versus the ‘Tips, the Ams hit their stride in winning the final three contests by a combined score of 14-4.  The Ams' power play clicked at over 30 per cent efficiency (8-for-26) in their first-round match-up for the best power play percentage of any team. 

However, they'll need to tighten up their 13th-ranked penalty killing to stop Kelowna's vaunted power play.  Goaltender Chet Pickard stopped 75 of 79 shots he faced over the final three games of the Americans' opening-round series.  The Ams will benefit from home-ice advantage versus the Rockets as they own a 32-6-0-1 record at home this season, counting the regular season.  

The Rockets advanced to the second round of the post-season for the first time since 2005-06 after sweeping the Kamloops Blazers four games to none in the opening round.  The Rockets scored 17 goals in four games versus the Blazers in the first round, only four of which came on the power play.  Rockets' sniper Jamie Benn is proving to be a key playoff performer.  The 19-year-old netted three goals and 10 points in four games versus the Blazers, and now has 21 points in only 11 career playoff games.  The Rockets lost both road games versus the Ams this season by a combined score of 9-3, but will need to find a way to win in Kennewick, WA, if they are to win the series.  Goaltender Mark Guggenberger will need to out-duel Ams' All-Star netminder Chet Pickard for the Rockets to have success.  

Series Schedule   #1 - Kelowna @ Tri-City; Friday, April 3 (7:05pm PST)
#2 - Kelowna @ Tri-City; Saturday, April 4 (7:05pm PST)
#3 - Tri-City @ Kelowna; Tuesday, April 7 (7:00pm PST)
#4 - Tri-City @ Kelowna; Wednesday, April 8 (7:00pm PST)
#5 - Kelowna @ Tri-City; Friday, April 10 (7:05pm PST)**
#6 - Tri-City @ Kelowna; Sunday, April 12 (5:00pm PST)**
#7 - Kelowna @ Tri-City; Tuesday, April 14 (7:05pm PST)**