Preview: Spokane Chiefs At Tri-City Americans - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Preview: Spokane Chiefs At Tri-City Americans

Posted: Updated:
© Doug Love © Doug Love


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Spokane Chiefs (0-0-0-0, 0 pts) at Tri-City Americans (0-0-0-0, 0 pts)
Toyota Center, Kennewick, WA; 7:05 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870; 6:45 p.m
Watch: MeTv 42.2/Charter 280; 7 p.m

Previous Game

Spokane: 0-5 loss vs. Portland (Game 4 Western Conference Semi Finals)
Tri-City: 1-3 loss vs. Spokane (Game 5 Western Conference Quarter Finals)

Returning Point Leaders
Spokane: Mitch Holmberg 39G-41A-80PT, Michael Aviani 30G-38A-68PT, Reid Gow 7G-44A-51PT
Tri-City: Connor Rankin 32G-26A--58PT , Zachary Yuen* 9G-36A-45PT , Parker Bowles* 21G-23A-44PT

*Inactive Saturday night

For the fourth consecutive year the Tri-City Americans open its season against the Spokane Chiefs, having won two of the last three season openers against its arch nemesis. However this season the Americans are out to seek revenge after being removed from the 2013 post season in five games by the Chiefs. Both teams have lost their leading scorer from the 2012-13 season and will look to its returning veteran leaders and a talented class of rookies to fill the void in their absence.

Players to Watch
Mitch Holmberg: Without Brenden Kichton and Todd Fiddler, the attention now shifts to Mitch Holmberg, who finished second on the team in goals, assists and points last season to those two players. Holmberg had a strong pre-season finishing with three goals and three assists in only three games. Holmberg looks prepared to lead the way for the Chiefs this season.

Matt Sozanski:  Rookie Matt Sozanski hopes to burst onto the scene in style for the Spokane Chiefs.  The defenseman showed that he belongs in this league scoring two goals and three assists with a +/- of three in five pre-season games. He is looking to lead a class of nine rookies on the Spokane Chiefs 24-man roster this season.

Mike Aviani: Aviani enters his fourth season in the WHL looking to build on last season when he registered his first career 30-goal season. He comes into the 2013-14 season as the Chief's second leading returning scorer behind Holmberg. He also led the team in +/- last season with 37. In three pre-season games he registered two goals and two assists.

Eric Comrie: After going through season ending hip surgery Eric Comrie is back in full force as the Americans' starting  netminder. Comrie had a busy pre-season where participating not only in Americans camp but also taking part in team Canada's world junior camp as well as in Winnipeg Jet camp where he was drafted in the second round last year.  He will be looking to establish himself as one of the elite net minders in the WHL this season.

Connor Rankin: With the loss of Justin Feser and Malte Stromwall, Rankin comes into the 2013-14 campaign as the Americans top returning scorer from last season. Rankin is looking to add to his already solid numbers from 2012-13 where he broke the thirty goal mark for the first time in his WHL career. Rankin also spent time with an NHL team this pre-season, taking part in Pittsburgh Penguins camp.

Mitch Topping: Not only did the Americans lose its top scorer in the departure of Justin Feser but it also lost its leader and team captain. Topping will fill that void, taking over as team captain for the 2013-14 season. Topping's presence on the ice becomes even more important in the absence of Zachary Yuen who remains at Camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs affiliate.

Keys to the Game

In Coming Rooks: The Americans will have its work cut out for it to replace its top goal scorers from last season. Tonight Tri-City will be without the services of five of its six leading scorers from the 2012-13 season three of which have left the team for good. The Americans will lean on an impressive class of rookies to help fill this void.  Ty Comrie, younger brother of starting goaltender Eric Comrie, finished the pre-season with seven points, second among all rookies in the WHL. Joining Ty are several other rookie forwards who are no stranger to the WHL seeing action late last season.  Among these forwards are Matthew Gelinas, Rodney Southam, Justin Mareck, Braden Purtill and Fraser Bulbuc.

Veteran Class: The Americans also have several young veterans poised to step up into a leadership role for the team on and off the ice this season. Returning forward Brian Williams, who finished last season with 20 goals and 16 assists, turned some heads in the pre-season. Williams scored five goals in six exhibition games tying for first in WHL goal scoring. The Americans also executed a trade early in the pre-season to acquire Kennewick native Taylor Vickerman. As a 16 year old Vickerman played 52 games with the Vancouver Giants. At age 17 he may be young but Tri-City will look to Vickerman as one of its veterans who could play a vital role in the team's success this season.

Next Game

Spokane: At Victoria 9/24/13
Tri-City: Vs. Prince George 9/22/13

Game Day Promotions
The Tri-City Americans kickoff the 2013-14 season by hosting the Spokane Chiefs on Tri-Cities Rotary opening night, presented by SunWest Sportswear, KVEW-TV, 97.5 KOOL FM and Tú Decides newspaper.  Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. It's the first Jack in the box Rock the Rink Saturday night, with discounts available at the Toyota Center box office with valid student ID. Join us during the second intermission for the seventh annual Tri-Cities Rotary chuck-a-duck contests.