Americans Drop Kamloops, 6-2Posted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, Wash. (by Tri-City Americans) -- Entering Tuesday night's tilt with a combined nine straight wins between the Kamloops Blazers and Tri-City Americans, one thing was certain…someone's streak was going to end.
Brendan Shinnimin – with two goals – was one of five different skaters that scored for the Tri-City Americans (35-11-0-1, 71 pts), as they powered their way past the visiting Kamloops Blazers (22-21-2-3, 49 pts) 6-2 in front of 3,232 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, Tri-City extended their winning streak to five games. Meanwhile, the Blazers, who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end, dropped to 0-3 vs. the Americans this year.
Things, however, did not start out all rosy for the Americans. With the game's first shot just 73 seconds into the contest, Chase Schaber slipped the puck past a sprawling Alexander Pechurskiy, putting Kamloops on top 1-0.
Tri-City, who appeared a bit sluggish to start the contest, seemed to awaken shortly there after. With 10 seconds remaining on a power play and from the left corner, Jordan Messier sent a great two-seam pass to Sergei Drozd, who was camped backdoor on Blazers' goaltender Jon Groenheyde. Drozd buried the pass, who snapped a career-high seven-game goalless streak, and tied the game at 1.
Then, as the game neared the midway mark of the first period and playing shorthanded, Shinnimin blocked Colin Smith's shot and took off on a breakaway. Unable to make any other play, Smith took down Shinnimin, who was then awarded a penalty shot by referee Andy Thiessen. Shinnimin broke in and beat Groenheyde up over his blocker, giving the Americans a lead they never relinquished.
Tri-City made it a 3-1 game at the 12:55 mark of the period, when Adam Hughesman nailed a shot from the right circle. Then, with 39 seconds remaining in the period and on the power play, Hughesman sent a backdoor feed to Shinnimin, who then lifted his shot up over Groenheyde's glove and sent the Americans into the first intermission with a 4-1 lead.
Just before the 8:00 minute mark of the second period, Brendan Ranford took a nice feed from Linden Saip and, from the left circle, beat Pechurskiy backdoor to pull the Blazers to within two. But, it would be as close as Kamloops got, as the Americans tacked on two more vs. back-up goaltender, Kurtis Mucha.
Mucha performed admirably for the Blazers in relief, but was tagged twice in the final period of play. The first came with 10:12 remaining in regulation, when Justin Feser chipped in a backhanded rebound of a Patrick Holland shot. Then, with 3:44 left in the contest and on the power play, Johnny Lazo capped the scoring when he put back a Shinnimin shot that deflected off a Blazers defender's skate.
Groenheyde, who took the loss, and Mucha combined for 34 saves in defeat. Meanwhile, Pechurskiy, who made his first start since making his NHL debut with Pittsburgh last Saturday, stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced to pick-up his 5th win of the season. The Tri-City special teams, which were a big factor in tonight's outcome, finished 3-for-4 on the power play and was a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
The Americans will get a two-day breather before they host a crucial doubleheader weekend vs. two of their biggest Conference rivals. Up first is a visit by the Vancouver Giants on Friday, January 22nd. Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. After going 1-3 vs. the Giants last season, Tri-City currently leads the four-game season series 2-0. However, the two division leaders have not met since the Americans trounced the Giants 8-2 at home back on November 6th. The Giants, who will play in Everett on Wednesday, have currently won two straight and five of their previous seven games. They also hold the Conference's best road record, coming in at 12-5-1-2 (0.675). Meanwhile, the Americans will put their six-game home winning streak on the line, who holds an all-time record of 13-6 vs. Vancouver at the Toyota Center.
The Americans and their fans raised over $2,264 as part of ‘The Herald and Hockey Help Haiti' fundraiser tonight. The initiative, which benefitted the American Red Cross' International Response Fund for Haiti, used proceeds from walk-up ticket sales, monetary donations at the game and a silent auction to help raise funds for the island nation that is still recovering from the aftermath of a 7.0 earthquake that struck on January 12. For more information on how you can help, visit the American Red Cross online at www.redcross.org