Kamloops Takes Out Americans, 5-2Posted: Updated:
Brady Calla recorded his first-career hat trick and the Kamloops Blazers (16-19-1-4, 37 pts) jumped past the Tri-City Americans (24-10-0-2, 50 pts) 5-2 in front of 4,668 fans at the Toyota Center. With the loss, the Americans finish their three-games in three-nights stretch with a 1-2 record, while dropping just their third game at home this season. Meanwhile, the Blazers picked-up their second straight win and their first in three tries against Tri-City this season.
Even early into the contest, the Americans struggled to capitalize on their opportunities. From coming up empty on a 5-on-3 chance, to failing to take advantage of an out-of-position Jon Groenheyde, Tri-City could not find the back of the net.
Then, late into the first period, Calla, who entered tonight's contest with just one goal this season, got the Blazers on the board first. Unassisted, Calla beat Tri-City goaltender Drew Owsley, as the Blazers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
With just 1:45 into the second period, Taylor Procyshen answered for the Americans, on a great set-up from Adam Hughesman and Tyler Schmidt. However, almost four minutes later, some of that momentum shifted right back to Kamloops when Schmidt attempted a clearing pass that took a bad bounce off the boards, and then managed to squeeze through Owsley's skate at the near post. Jimmy Bubnick was credited with the goal as the Blazers took the lead for good, at 2-1. Then, with just over 4:00 remaining in the period, Kamloops made it 3-1 after C.J. Stretch re-directed a Shayne Wiebe shot, between the pads of Owsley, for his 12th goal of the season.
As time ticked away in the third period, Procyshen's second goal of the night electrified the crowd with 3:15 remaining in regulation, pulling Tri-City to within two, at 3-2. But, just as the crowd was beginning to believe in a come-back, the Blazers closed the door on the idea, as Calla picked-up goal #2 with 1:02 remaining in the period.
Not willing to give-up just yet, Tri-City coach Don Nachbaur pulled Owsley for the extra attacker shortly thereafter but, with 39 seconds remaining in the contest, Calla capped off his hat trick with an empty net goal.
Owsley finished the night with 21 saves on 25 shots in the loss, while Groenheyde stopped 32 of the 34 shots he saw in the win. The Americans went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Kamloops was 1-for-5 on the man-advantage.
Tomorrow, the Americans will practice for the first time since returning to action from the holiday break, before they prepare to face-off against their division rivals, the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday, December 31. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Last Saturday, the Chiefs took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-12 season series with a 4-2 win at Veterans Memorial Arena. Thus far this season, the home team has won every game in the series and, against Spokane, the Americans have won their last three home games. Wednesday's game will be the 19th time the Chiefs and Americans have met on New Year's Eve, with Tri-City holding the edge at 11-5-0-1 and 1 tie.